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Howzat! Charlotte Edwards opens £800,000 sports centre at Oswestry School

By Jonny Drury | Oswestry | Education | Published:

On the day that one former England captain rounded off his glittering career with a century another was in the region to open an £800,000 sports centre.

Charlotte Edwards with, from left, Emily Pritchard, Marta Fenandez, Poppy Wilson and Jessie Gittins, all aged 12 as she officially opens the brand new sports hall at Oswestry School

At the same time as Alistair Cook was clocking up a century during his final test match innings, Charlotte Edwards CBE, who led the England women's team to a World Cup win and Ashes triumphs officially opened the new sports centre at Oswestry School.

The investment has led to the school's first major sports hall, and the former England skipper met with local dignitaries and students during a talk and demonstration afternoon.

The former batter called time on her career last year and is now visiting schools and coaching, in a bid to continue raising the profile of women's cricket.

She said: "It is nice to come to events like this and open buildings, it is quite an honour really.

"If someone said I would be doing this 20 years ago, I wouldn't have believed them so it is a great honour to come and do this today.

Former England Women’s cricket captain Charlotte Edwards with headteacher Julian Noad at Oswestry School

"Cricket, especially women's cricket has really grown in recent years and facilities like this will help the sport grow even further.

"Since retiring I have done a few events like this, and it is nice to come out and meet young cricketers and give talks to them."

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After a long consultation period the school decided on a design for the building, which was completed this summer.

It has indoor cricket nets and can cater for a host of other sports such as handball and tennis.

Director of sport Dominic Bradburn said: "To have someone like Charlotte come and open the sports hall is a real honour.

"From a sports point of view this is a brilliant investment and has taken some time to come about.

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"It will be used by the 450 plus pupils every day, with after school clubs and other clubs in the area."

Edwards' career spanned more than 20 years, and saw her rise to the very top of the game.

Charlotte in batting action

She became the first first player, either male or female, to score 2500 runs in T20 internationals, and captained England on 220 occasions.

She has been named one of the Wisden Cricketer's of the Year, won Ashes tours and the 2009 World Cup in Australia.

Her counterpart in the men's game for many years was Cook, who surpassed more records this week on his way to a century in his final test.

She heaped praise on Cook, saying cricket has been very lucky to have him.

She said: "He is a world class cricketer to have done what he has done in the game.

"It was fitting to see him get the century today, I think English cricket has been lucky to have a great player like Alistair, but also a great person as well.

"I have been to many events with him, and he has been fantastic for English cricket, and his century is a fitting send off."

Season

During her visit to Oswestry School, the 38-year-old also spoke about a young batsman who will be looking to emulate Edwards' and Cook's success in the coming years.

Joe Clarke, a former batsman at Oswestry Cricket Club has been lighting up the County Championship with Worcestershire in recent years.

And Edwards believes he isn't far away from an England senior call up.

She said: "There has been a lot of talk about Joe and I know he is very highly thought of in the England set up.

"He hasn't had the season he has been hoping for, but he is part of a lot of up and coming players who will get chances.

"He is still very young and has a great chance, and he has the T20 finals day coming up this weekend which is a great chance for him to show what he can do."

Coaching

Edwards called time on her England career in 2016, and on her professional career after turning out for the Southern Vipers in the women's super league last year.

Now she fills her time with coaching for three months in Australia, and also serves as Hampshire's Director of Cricket.

She said women's cricket has come a long way since she made her debut in 1996, and believes the next five years offer scope for it to grow even further.

She added: "When I began playing I played in a skirt and a blazer I had to buy myself.

"There has been a big change in the last 20 years, and English cricket in both the men's and women's game is in a great place.

"It is an exciting time to be a young aspiring women's cricketer, and in the coming years I want to give something back to help English cricket grow even further.

"There are professional women's cricketers and that will continue to grow in the next five years."

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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