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Captain Charlotte Edwards will tomorrow lead the England women's cricket team to contest the World Cup final against New Zealand, hoping to further emphasise the contrast in fortunes with their male counterparts.

But yesterday, the culture secretary, Andy Burnham, accused the media of woefully underplaying their achievement and called on broadcasters and governing bodies to dramatically boost the profile of women's sport in general.

The lack of positive female role models on television and in newspapers was contributing directly to teenage girls dropping out of sport and could threaten the legacy of the London Olympics in 2012, he warned.

"We've just had a great week for women's sport in the cricket and in Sheffield with the swimming. And yet how much do the next generation of women and young girls know about it?" said Burnham. "There was no live coverage from Sheffield as far as I can tell, even though it was the first outing for Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson in the pool [since the Olympics]."

He said little had changed since he called for women's sport to be taken more seriously in the wake of the success of Adlington, 400m gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu and cyclists Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Romero and Nicole Cook.

This week, Adlington's coach observed that media coverage of her achievements tended to focus too much on her girl next door personality, and not enough on her sporting prowess.

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