Home crowd pressure can take Australia to new level, says England star

England fast bowler Anya Shrubsole knows what it means to handle pressure and win a World Cup final before a fervent home crowd.

Shrubsole was the player of the match in 2017 when the host nation claimed a nine-run win over India in the 50-overs format before a packed house at Lord’s. Having claimed 6-46, the best-ever bowling figures in a women’s World Cup final, she later received an MBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Year honours list and was named one of the five Wisden cricketers of the year, becoming the first woman to appear on the cover of the esteemed almanack.

Player of the Match Anya Shrubsole celebrates after taking the final India wicket of Rajeshwari Gayakwad to win the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 Final between England and India at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on July 23, 2017. Credit:Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

“You don’t always get the opportunity to win a World Cup before a home crowd, so to be a part of that was absolutely amazing,” Shrubsole said.

“It’s one of those things. It, obviously, can mean a bit more pressure but, for me, it’s how you look at it. You can either see it as added pressure or something that can really benefit you and galvanise you and know that you have that support coming from the stands. That can push you on to a different level.”

That “different” level is something Australia hopes to reach through this home Twenty20 World Cup, although their campaign began on a poor note on Friday night when they were beaten by India in the tournament opener in Sydney. They need to regroup quickly, for they face Sri Lanka in Perth on Monday.

Australia have won this tournament four times, but this is the first time it has been held on home soil. Local support will be strong, but it can also be overwhelming unless harnessed in the right manner.

Trailblazer: Anya Shrubsole was the first woman to feature on the cover of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

That is something Shrubsole, who has represented England since 2008 and has played in almost 150 internationals, did three years ago and will repeat in Australia where her nation will have strong support.

The English begin their campaign against South Africa on Sunday at the WACA, and coach Lisa Keightley, the former Australian player, has made it clear she is eyeing a spot in the final at the MCG on March 8 – International Women’s Day.

“You can definitely tell the difference in the interest and all the media and even just turning up at all the venues and seeing all the advertising for the World Cup,” Shrubsole said.

“Walking around the cities when we were in Melbourne during the tri-series (tournament), seeing the World Cup advertised on trams, pretty much wherever you go, as soon as you are a part of it, you know everything just ramps up. Again, it’s whether you choose to see it as pressure or something that is really exciting.”

Pop star Katy Perry will perform before and after the final on a day when Cricket Australia wants to break the record for attendance at a women’s sporting event. The current record is the 90,185 who witnessed the 1999 football World Cup final in Los Angeles.

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