Thursday, December 9, 2021

ICC: A letter to Jan, by Charlotte Edwards

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Following the ICC Hall of Fame announcement on 13 November 2021, former teammates have written open letters to the inductees, with their reactions to the news.

To Jan,

To be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame is perhaps the biggest accolade you can have in the game. Being celebrated along with some of the greatest players is one of the things that you hope one day maybe you’ll experience. When I learned you were to join the list of names, I was just over the moon for you, because someone like you just has to be recognised and deserves that recognition – I couldn’t be happier.

Hearing the news made me smile as much as I have done in a long time and I couldn’t wait to write this letter to you. You are undoubtedly one of the greats of the game, and I feel so lucky and privileged to have played with you. It was an honour sharing the field with you for England, because you influenced me so much during the early part of my career, and a lot of what you did and what I witnessed has helped me in later years.

I idolised you if I’m honest. I watched you play in the World Cup in England, and I can’t forget my first ever game going to watch England was in Finchampstead when my dad took me to watch you play. That’s the first time I saw you live.

I was a bit of a geek growing up, and I’d heard so much about you, so I always knew that Jan Brittin was the best England batter of her generation, and since that day I first watched you score runs, I was just in awe of you.

Once I started playing, we would play against each other quite a bit in club cricket. Then in 1996, once I got called up to represent England, I had the absolute pleasure of opening the batting with you in my first Test match. I remember walking out to bat, and you always called me kiddo, and you said: ‘You take the first ball, kiddo.’ I don’t think as a 16-year-old you could have had any better compliment than that, just before you take the first ball in your first Test. 

You gave me a huge amount of confidence and believed in me. For anyone, you always want your idol to live up to everything you hoped they would do when you’re growing up and you certainly did that. I just feel so lucky to have played and have learned from, in my opinion, the best.

You were just a great player, a great person, and someone who I hugely looked up to and it’s right that you held a number of records within the game. In fact you still hold a few – you are still England women’s leading Test run-scorer, and I don’t think you’ll ever be beaten.

I played in your last few matches in the Test series against Australia, perhaps my fondest memories of watching you play. Despite your broken finger, you battled through to play some of the best cricket I’ve seen, which emphasises the toughness of your character, and your quality right up to the very end. There was a real resilience around you that made you in my view England’s greatest batter and everything that I looked up to and wanted to be myself.

You were a great role model for me and someone I feel very fortunate to have played with at the back end of your career. Everyone I spoke to then, and since always talks about you with the utmost admiration. When we said our final goodbye to you at your funeral, seeing everyone there talking so fondly and telling us all the great stories about you confirmed your status as a legend on and off the field.

Around the world, you were one of the best. Winning the World Cup in 1993 I’m sure would be considered your biggest achievement. Top-scoring with 48 in the final was the crowning glory for you, and it was great to watch England during that wonderful year.

I can’t just talk about you as a batter however! You were a better fielder at 36 than I was at 16! You were just so fit and professional. I remember my first World Cup tour with you. It was the first time we wore trousers – we can probably thank you for that – and you took some wonderful catches being the excellent fielder you were. I’d like to say you were probably a generation too early really in terms of your approach to the game.

I often talk about you to some of the players I work with now. I’ve never forgotten what you did for me and I don’t think a lot of the players in my era have.

I’ve always looked back on you as the standout female cricketer. Rachael Heyhoe Flint is always rightly remembered as the pioneer, but I think you were the player everyone looked up to and wanted to be. I certainly did and I know a number of my peers did as well.

You were just so elegant to watch. I remember my dad loved watching you but then again, we all did, my whole family did. We used to go to games and I didn’t want to get you out!

Thank you for being you and living up to everything I wanted as my idol, to play three years with you was just the best and the best introduction to international cricket I could ever, ever have had.

Congratulations Jan, your memory will live on in us all.

Charlotte

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