Women's Cricket

In each of our regular New Bulletins Raf Nicholson writes her observations on promoting women's cricket. You can read the latest edition below.

July/August 2019

I’m delighted to have been asked to begin contributing to the Cricket Society Bulletin. I’ve recently been co-opted onto the Society’s Executive Committee to help contribute to discussions about how the Society can best represent the perspectives of its female members, who currently make up about 6% of the overall membership. If you’re a female member and you have any insights into how we can better represent you, do get in touch with me and I can feed this back to the rest of the Executive.

I’m also keen to provide input into how the Society might better promote women’s cricket. Though I grew up on a diet of men’s cricket (thanks Dad!), the women’s game is my passion nowadays. A few years ago I wrote my PhD thesis on the history of women’s cricket - it’s about to be published as a book, This, incidentally, is how I first met Nigel Hancock, who was studying cricket history at De Montfort University at the time, and enthusiastically recruited me to join the Society’s ranks! As well as working as an academic, currently based at Bournemouth University, I’m also a journalist writing on the contemporary women’s game. I’ve written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, Cricinfo and Wisden, amongst others.

I also run the women’s cricket website, www.crickether.com. Syd Egan and I set up CRICKETher in 2014, as a response to the total lack of coverage of domestic women’s cricket in the mainstream media. The BBC claims to offer commentary on “every county match”, but in reality, the highs and lows of the Women’s County Championship are ignored. So, Syd and I cover them ourselves. The WCC is played out over 5 weekends in May and June so has actually already concluded, believe it or not. Kent Women - who have England’s Tammy Beaumont, Laura Marsh and Fran Wilson in their ranks - have just won a record 8th Championship title, so any Kent supporters reading this can rightly feel very smug!

The Cricket Society has a good track record of supporting women’s cricket - their Most Promising Young Female Cricketer Award has run since 2002 - but there is always more to do. For example, while I enjoy perusing the Bulletin, it’s more often than not been possible to get from cover to cover without any evidence that women also play cricket (quite well in many cases!) I hope that at the very least my presence in the Bulletin will help members stay informed about developments in women’s cricket. I’d also personally love to see more letters from readers about their experiences / memories of women’s cricket so do get writing!

There are a number of suggestions at the moment as to how as a Society we can increase our support for women’s cricket:

- Hold a regular women’s cricket-themed meeting for members.
- Run one of our “Days at the Cricket” next summer at a women’s ODI (date to be confirmed).
- Increase the number of women’s cricket awards at our annual Awards Ceremony / Spring Lunch at the Oval, e.g. by introducing a schoolgirl cricket award,

If you have any additional thoughts, then feel free to get in touch with me

Currently underway is the Men’s World Cup, as I insist on referring to it. The ICC Board recently officially approved a change to naming conventions of ICC events, whereby the tournaments will be known as the “ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup” and the “ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup” respectively. I was part of the consultation process for this. When someone from the ICC called last year to discuss the proposed change, I suggested - channelling the late, great Rachael Heyhoe-Flint - that my preference would be for the events to be referred to as the “Men’s World Cup” and the “World Cup”. After all, ours came first. I’m hoping to persuade Cricket Society members to come round to my way of thinking…

Meanwhile in the women’s game, England are playing a series against West Indies before the premier event of the summer - the women’s Ashes - begins on July 2. In case any reader is wondering, the women do have their own “Ashes”, though ours are a bit younger than the men’s. England and Australia have been playing international women’s cricket since 1934, but went for over half a century without any kind of trophy being awarded. So in 1998, ahead of the England-Australia women’s Tests, the two teams gathered in the Harris Garden at Lord’s with a miniature bat (signed by both sides) and a wok (supplied by the MCC). The bat was burned in the wok, and the ashes were placed inside a new trophy. This might sound rather surreal, but I can assure you it is absolutely true!

Australia are the current holders of the Ashes and favourites this time around, but it should be a hard-fought series. It will be points-based, with each of the 3 formats counting towards the final result. The fixtures, with available points, are as follows:

2 July - 1st ODI at Leicester (day-nighter starting at 2pm) - 2 points
4 July - 2nd ODI at Leicester (day-nighter starting at 2pm) - 2 points
7 July - 3rd ODI at Canterbury (11am start) - 2 points
18-21 July - Test match at Taunton (11am start) - 4 points
26 July - 1st T20 at Chelmsford (7pm start) - 2 points
28 July - 2nd T20 at Hove (2pm start) - 2 points
31 July - 3rd T20 at Bristol (7pm start) - 2 points

Sadly, women play very little Test cricket (currently one Test between England and Australia every two years), so the Test at Taunton is a really big occasion. You can get to all 4 days for just £30 all-in, and it should be brilliant - it would certainly be great to have a Cricket Society presence there (and indeed at any of the other matches).

Raf Nicholson