In each of our regular New Bulletins Raf Nicholson writes her observations on promoting women's cricket. You can read the latest edition below.
I am writing this from the press box at Bristol, where I am fortunate enough to be covering the Women’s Test against India. Things are not quite “normal” - masks are being worn when walking around the ground; food is delivered in boxes and must be eaten at our desks. But unlike last year when I covered England’s five T20s against West Indies at Derby from a freezing cold marquee in September, we are at least able to take proper shelter should the scheduled thunderstorms arrive. (The sun is shining at the moment, but this is England so my guess is that rain will not be far off!)
England captain Heather Knight has welcomed the move back to something approaching normality - describing this year’s team environment as a “pseudo bubble”. I am not 100% clear, but I think this means that the players are allowed to leave their hotel between training sessions but not encouraged to do so?
And of course we have finally seen the long-awaited return of crowds into grounds, which is as welcome in the women’s game as I’m sure it is in men’s cricket. I admit to feeling quite emotional a few weeks ago when I turned up to the Ageas Bowl for the first day of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, and heard a huge roar go up as Southern Vipers took a wicket in the first over of the day. It’s funny the things we took for granted before Covid, isn’t it?
Talking of crowds, the Society are hoping that we might finally get to stage our aborted Day At The Women’s Cricket at some point this summer - probably in September, for an England v New Zealand ODI. Keep your eye out for any news on this, and do please think about signing up - I’d love to see a big Society contingent at a women’s match this season.
There was some controversy on the eve of this Test match over the fact that it is being played on a used wicket - the pitch was first used for last week’s Gloucestershire Vitality Blast match against Sussex. It makes the Bristol match the second consecutive home women’s Test allocated a used wicket, after England’s Ashes encounter at Taunton in 2019 was also played on a used strip. It’s a move that has been (rightly) widely condemned, although I do feel a bit sorry for Gloucestershire, who were apparently given very little notice by the ECB to magic up a new pitch “suitable for TV”.
It did get me thinking, though - when is the last time England Men played a home Test on a used wicket? I am sure some beady-eyed Cricket Society member will be able to tell me! I’d certainly be interested to know the answer.
Hope you are all enjoying the season and return to some sort of “normality” as much as I am. I will sign off there as it is time now for me to return to bashing out some words for The Guardian!