The England Women’s cricket team will have felt on top of the world after winning the top prize at their home World Cup earlier this summer.
But their status as the world’s premier team was only verified this week as Heather Knight’s team hit top spot in the world standings for the first time since the inception of the International Cricket Council’s rankings in 2015.
England usurped arch enemies and winter opponents Australia in the rankings 72 days on from their thrilling nine-run win over India in the world showpiece at Lord’s.
It is a well-timed confidence boost ahead of this winter’s trip down under for the renewal of an Ashes battle.
But for Yorkshire Diamonds player Jenny Gunn, she knows all too well how different the English mood could have been.
As the final against India hung in the balance, Gunn attained a rare feat by enduring the worst moment of her playing career and the best within the space of 30 seconds.
I just misjudged it – that was it. You don’t mean to drop them. Other people make mistakes but that’s the only one people are going to remember.Jenny Gunn
With ten runs required for a shock Indian victory, the 31-year-old was handed the moment to clinch the trophy as No 11 batsman Rajeshwari Gayakwad lifted a tame shot towards her at mid-off.
But Gunn let the simple opportunity slip through her hands.
To compound the mistake, captain Knight later admitted it felt like the 31-year-old had dropped the World Cup.
Gunn’s blushes, however, were spared the next delivery as six-wicket hero Anya Shrubsole broke Gayakwad’s weak defence to seal the memorable triumph and put the hosts on top of the world.
“Thirteen years playing, this is what I’m going to be remembered for,” Gunn reflected.
“I just misjudged it – that was it. You don’t mean to drop them. Other people make mistakes but that’s the only one people are going to remember.
“None of the team actually said anything about it. It was just everybody else,” she said. “Before they say congratulations, they say ‘what about the catch?’.
“We won the World Cup. If we had lost it, I would understand.
“I was going to bowl the last over and I still thought we had it in our hands. Anya just said to me straight away, “it’s fine, we’re going to do this”. And she got the wicket next ball. I think I owed her a few drinks for that.”
It was a rare mistake for a woman who has represented her country 245 times in Test, One Day and T20 formats.
But, despite the error happening on the biggest stage of all, it was not enough to ruin Gunn’s parade or that of her team-mates.
“I was just loving the day. I didn’t expect to be playing, I was just happy to get in the squad of 15. To be playing in the World Cup final, I was just trying to enjoy the day. Some of the girls were quite nervous to not only play at Lord’s, but in a final of the World Cup in front of a sell-out crowd.
“There are always going to be a few nerves. But nerves are good and it was about enjoying the day. We had done the hard work getting to the final.
“To be part of it was amazing. Playing at Lord’s in a home World Cup, that’s what you dream of. To get the chance to do it, in England, it made it more special because my family and friends were there. My Grandma usually watches it all on Teletext but she was able to be there to see the game.
“I’ve played for 13 years and just having them there was the highlight of my career.”
The experience of playing in front of a 26,000-strong crowd is a new boundary in the women’s game – but one the players are hopeful to become a regular occurrence.
The challenge of bringing new faces into the game will continue throughout the winter as England bid to reclaim the Ashes over a four-week tour of Australia.
The series will span seven matches over the three formats, starting in Brisbane on October 22.
Knight said the England team will be ready to go from being the hunters, to the hunted.
“We have been successful and the hardest thing in sport is to keep being successful when you’re being hunted,” said Knight.
“When you’re on top everyone wants to beat you and that’s something we’ve talked about: winning after winning.
“There’s no better time to have an Ashes than straight after winning the World Cup. We’ve been back together in training these past couple of weeks and swapped stories about our celebrations.
“But you’re only as good as your last game. If we can win this series then it will be a really special 2017 and we’ll bask in that glory, but only if we do.”