England World Cup triumph a 'watershed' for women's cricket

Thriller against India believed to have been watched by 150 million people

Anya Shrubsole
Anya Shrubsole dismisses Punam Raut in the Women's World Cup final
(Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

England's thrilling triumph in the Women's World Cup final at Lord's on Sunday drew a Sky Sports audience of more than a million on TV.

That's more than the average audience for Premier League football on the broadcaster and almost twice as many as tuned in for the Champions Trophy final earlier in the summer.

A record audience of 1.1 million in the UK tuned in to watch, reports The Times, while the BBC says a similar number followed the action on the BBC Sport website.

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"The global television audience for the final, which was substantially boosted by the presence of India, is likely to make it the most-watched women’s cricket match ever," adds the Times. "Official viewing figures will not be released by the ICC until later this week, but early estimates are that they are comfortably in excess of 150 million viewers."

The match, which England won by nine runs, has been described as a "watershed moment" for the sport.

"The £512,000 prize-money has been split equally among the 15-strong squad, meaning £34,000 a player," says The Guardian. "For players on central contracts worth around £50,000 plus match fees and bonuses, that represents a huge increase in their annual income.

"But the exposure gained from a tournament which benefited from two gripping semi-finals as well as a thrilling finale could lead to greater rewards in the form of sponsorship and advertising deals."

It "has catapulted women's cricket into the national and international consciousness", says the BBC.

While England's brilliant comeback delighted the home fans at Lord's, "India's surprise run to the final could turn out to be far more important for the future of the women's game", says Stephan Shemilt of the BBC.

When the 2013 World Cup was held in India, it "hardly registered with the locals in a nation where cricket is loved like no other", he says.

"Facilities at venues were shoddy and publicity non-existent… Matches were played to near empty stadiums, despite entry being free of charge."

If India takes to women's cricket the way it has to one-day and T20 formats after national success, it could herald a new era for women's sport.

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