Now England’s netballers, cricketers and hockey stars are turning their own fate towards the Commonwealth Games… with three squads looking to follow in the footsteps of the Lionesses by becoming victorious
- England’s netball, hockey and cricket women’s teams are one;; Going for gold
- The Commonwealth Games have given views of all three finals on Sunday
- All three squadrons are inspired by the Eurosuccess of the Lionesses
A week after the historic Lionesses Day in the capital, England’s second largest city is hosting a second major women’s sport Sunday.
The Birmingham 2022 organizers had a hat-trick in mind for the home team as they staged the women’s hockey, cricket and netball finals one after another on the penultimate afternoon of action.
And they could be about to have the day they’ve dreamed of, with England still battling to contest all of Sunday’s Commonwealth Games gold medal matches.
The women’s hockey team reached the final with a dramatic shootout win over New Zealand on Friday night. The cricketers will face India in Saturday morning’s semi-final in Edgbaston. Then the netballers take on Australia in a sold-out NEC Arena in a last-four rematch of their famous 2018 final.
“Something like that is great for women’s sport,” said England and Warwickshire wicketkeeper Amy Jones, who grew up in Sutton Coldfield, just 30 minutes north of Edgbaston.
“After what the Lionesses have accomplished, there is a real appetite for women’s sports right now. When you look at the Lionesses, it gives extra pride to be a female English athlete. It certainly lifted us up and we would love to experience the same.
“We are very keen to continue that momentum and keep women’s sport in the spotlight. If it inspires girls to play sports or follow England women’s teams, that would be a huge success.”
Of course, all of these women’s teams have enjoyed their moment in the spotlight before. In 2016, 9.7 million people watched as the hockey heroes of Team GB won Olympic gold in Rio after penalties against the Netherlands.
A year later, England defeated India by nine runs to win the Women’s Cricket World Cup in a sold out Lord’s. Then, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, they were crowned Team of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards during the netballers’ last gasp against all-conquering Australia.
“In the stands at Lord’s that day, it was an incredible opportunity,” said Jones, who just missed the 2017 squad. “This is a similar feeling when so many people come to Edgbaston. The atmosphere has been great in every game so far and we try to absorb it all.
“The goal of the tournament was to win gold. We have a big challenge in India but if we get the chance to win a gold medal in Edgbaston it will be a very special day.
“We feel like we can handle anyone. It would be incredible to be the first team to win gold. We have all the motivation we need.’
Just like the English netballers. The Roses won all of their group matches to set up their clash with rivals Australia, who finished second in their group on Thursday after a shocking defeat to Jamaica.
“How damn exciting,” said veteran goalkeeper Geva Mentor ahead of their semi-final. “If we can get the job done in Australia and Jamaica beat New Zealand, it would be a final we’ve never seen before. That is so refreshing and exciting for korfball.’
As for the hockey players, they will face Australia in the final at the University of Birmingham for a chance to win gold at the Commonwealth Games for the very first time.
“We have one game left and we can make history,” said Izzy Petter, semi-final scorer. ‘We want it so badly. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’