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The achievement of England's women in lifting the World Cup goes beyond the mere winning of a big final. Throughout a long tournament they demonstrated themselves to be clearly the best team in the world, as they have been for the past 12 months.

Their victory over New Zealand at the North Sydney Oval was their 18th in 19 one-day internationals dating back to early last year - their only defeat came in a dead-rubber game against Australia last Thursday - and their fifth in a row against New Zealand, a team of physically bigger and stronger players.

It is, then, their consistent excellence that stands out and in that respect this victory must be seen as more substantial than their previous World Cup wins of 1973 and 1993. They have set the benchmark for the game and in doing so have vindicated the infrastructure the English cricket has put in place for them. They could dominate for some time to come.

Typically, it was a team effort that won the final. All the bowlers played their part in restricting New Zealand to a modest 166. The top three batsmen of Sarah Taylor, Caroline Atkins and Claire Taylor then took the score to 109 for one in the 27th over but a middle-innings wobble meant that there was still work to be done when the seventh- wicket pair of Nicky Shaw and Holly Colvin came together.

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