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For England's cricketers, it has been a winter they will be keen to forget, from the sacking of captain Kevin Pietersen to the business dealings of Sir Allen Stanford and the team's failure so far to win a single competitive match. But yesterday a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds gathering over the English game when the national side beat the West Indies, bowling them out for 190, to secure a place in the World Cup final - and there wasn't a pedalo in sight. That's because the side in question was the England women's team.

While the men have suffered under an embarrassment of negative headlines, the women's team have toiled in glorious obscurity. The 29-year-old captain, Charlotte Edwards, was named world cricket's player of the year last September, but did not make the shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year - a fact that caused the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, to fulminate against the "very ordinary individuals" who were chosen ahead of her.

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