One of the finest women cricketers of all time,England captain Charlotte Edwards has announced her retirement from international cricket.

A prolific right-handed batsman, who also bowled leg breaks, is the only player – man or woman – to captain England in 200 international matches. Undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of the women’s game in England,Charlotte Edwards made her international debut in 1995 as a 16-year old, which made her the youngest player to represent England.She went on to play for 20 years, scoring over 10,000 runs in international cricket.

The first woman to join the MCC world cricket committee, she will continue to play domestic cricket, captaining the Southern Vipers in the inaugural Kia Super League this summer and leading Kent in the Royal London Women’s One-Day Championship.

Edwards was named the ICC women’s cricketer of the year in 2008, and became just the second woman to be honoured as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in 2014.

“It’s a decision I’ve reached after much thought and detailed discussion with [England coach] Mark Robinson and [director of England women’s cricket] Clare Connor about what is best for the team going forward.

“I believe now is the right time for a new captain to lead the team forward and for young players to be given more opportunities to make their mark on the international game. 

“After honest and open discussions with Mark, it became clear that he wants to build a new team and I fully support that. I would have loved to have carried on and whilst I am disappointed that I won’t be doing so, I fully understand and respect what Mark is looking to do. This is a new era and he wants other players to come to the fore to build a strong team,” Edwards said.

The highest run-getter in women’s cricket in both limited-overs formats, Edwards led England to the 2009 World Cup and World T20 titles, also winning four Ashes series against Australia.

“Everyone who knows me – and how much I love playing for England – will appreciate what a difficult decision it has been for me to retire from international cricket,” she said.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “Charlotte’s achievements in the game are unrivalled, and in many aspects, are unlikely to ever be surpassed.

“She leaves the most wonderful legacy, having inspired countless women and girls around the world to pick up a bat and a ball and play the game she so clearly loves.”

Clare Connor, ECB Director of Women’s Cricket and Edwards’s former captain, said, “It is impossible to quantify Charlotte’s contribution to England women’s cricket in a few words, so great has her influence and inspiration been as a leader, and so prolific her record as a batsman. In a staggering career spanning 20 years, she has achieved it all. She has witnessed great change: from making her debut in 1996 when, aged 16, she paid 50 for the privilege of her first England blazer to turning fully professional for these twilight years of her career.

“Throughout that time, she has adapted, she has thrived and she has become more and more resilient. But perhaps most importantly she has remained in love with the game. Unlike her sport and her journey through it, Charlotte the person has barely changed. Despite the CBE, the professional contract, the media requests and the World Cup medals, she has remained constant, true to herself, an impeccable role model for our sport and, indeed, for all women in sport. She has given everything to playing cricket for England and the game will forever owe her a huge debt of gratitude,” she said.

After experiencing huge success from 2009 to 2013, England have failed to achieve big  in global events over the past couple of years but Edwards remains a top performer at the highest level.Her two man-of-the-match awards at the World Twenty20 earlier this year proves that she can still perform at the highest stage.

England’s disappointing loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the WorldT20 event prompted speculation about Edwards’ position.The first player – male or female – to score 2,500 runs in T20 internationals, Edwards retires from international cricket as one of its most respected and accomplished performers.

After her retirement, Heather Knight, the current vice-captain, and Sarah Taylor are the likely frontrunners to lead England.

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