Anya Shrubsole, Queen Of Swing, Calls Time On A Glowing Career!

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What’s important in sport is to not just begin well, but end well too. Like a promising inning you’d much rather convert into a three-figure mark instead of leaving it midway after a fine start. Semi-finished narratives hardly take anyone anywhere. In that regard Anya Shrubsole has done it right.

And given the vagaries of sport change rather hurriedly, it appears that Shrubsole has done so much so quickly.

So much so that at 30 she’s called time on a career.

In a sport where names like Windies’s Susan Redhead and White Ferns’ Ann McKenna debuted at 40, Shrubsole leaving the pitch at 30 is so sudden a development that it could be construed as a flaw in decision making.

It seems a stand defined by a major lapse in judgement.

But that’s a fan take that may not necessarily take into consideration the actualities confronting modern sport.

What stands out in Anya Shrubsole’s retirement address is this, “The sport is moving forward faster than I can keep up with.”

What doesn’t quite is that Shrubsole neither seemed out of sorts nor in a serious dearth of wickets in the recent world cup so to have opted for retirement.

Barring the lackluster game versus the West Indies where she went wicketless, Shrubsole took 2 for 27 in the semi final against the Proteas, clinched a three-for in the finals and even in the contests before, note the one against India, broke the back of its top order by removing Mithali and Yastika.

Was Shrubsole possibly burdened by the burly requirements of modern cricket where the number of hours spent in the gym matter as much as economy rates or wickets taken? Was the painful tedium of keeping up with multi formats all round the year too much to negotiate with?

It all seems an exercise in endless speculation.

Nevertheless, the call, whether drastic or timely, has been taken. The only thing that makes sense is to make sense of the true position Anya Shrubsole’s career occupies.

And in that regard it is only fitting to state that Shrubsole leaves the pitch as a true champion of the game. In a sport where Shabnim Ismail’s raw pace leaves batters spellbound, Baig’s pace tests them and where Schutt constantly usurps opponents, Shrubsole’s medium fast bowling confused them.

It left batters astounded.

It led to an almost embarrassing spectacle in the wake of failure to read the in-swinging delivery. It was Anya Shrubsole’s trademark delivery, the entry pass to a heartstopping red-carpet event.

And once you were there, it was pretty much Anya Shrubsole’s show. Just like the way it was back in the 2018 T20 World Cup, where she cut the South African tail on her own in taking a memorable hat-trick. Pretty much the way it was in the 2017 ODI world cup final, where India, well within the task of chasing down 38 from 44, were quite simply denied their right to exist for Anya Shrubsole took them on.

But it ought to be said that it’s one thing to be the leading light of a team where there are hardly any, but something quite spectacular to make a place for yourself in a side brimming with shining lights.

That Shrubsole became the first ever woman to feature on the cover of a Wisden Almanack, circa 2017, is no mean feat but neither is the fact that she became a force to reckon with in a side packed with English legends.

Where there was a heroic captain in Heather Knight, a brute seemingly unputdownable force of seam bowling in Katherine Brunt, a keeper as agile and clever as Sarah Taylor and batters perpetually among the runs such as Tammy Beaumont.

What’s just as noteworthy as Shrubsole’s rise in the team is the tale of how it all happened, rather the colossal figure of inspiration that led to it.

For someone who began playing the game at age 13 and grew up pretty much playing against boys, it was Anya Shrubsole’s father, also a former cricketer, who encouraged her to take the sport seriously.

Taking the road less trodden was just the narrative that would define her next important step as in joining the famous Somerset Academy, Shrubsole would become the first girl to do so.

To many making pop art, joining a rock ensemble or becoming a director in an ad agency would’ve been the way to score big in life though Shrubsole thought of it differently.

She was here to breach past defences and upset studious temperaments, something she’s succeeded at pretty handily for close to a decade and a half.

It’s something she began doing well, when at Wormsley in 2013, a 22-year-old made news for a tight Test match spell of 3 for 105. It’s something she stuck to with voracious love, when in her final appearance, the 2022 World Cup finals, she’d remove Lanning, Mooney and the highest-scorer of the game in Alyssa Healy on her own.

And it could be said, she ended quite nicely what she began on a really promising note even if it seems the full stop arrived a tad bit too soon.

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