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 2020

What’s the best thing you’ve done during “lockdown”? I think mine might be creating a home-made cricket trophy out of a yoghurt pot and some cardboard. Blue Peter, eat your heart out.

This was part of the inaugural (and hopefully only…) “CRICKETish Cup”, which myself, my partner Syd and a group of other women’s cricket supporters ran over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. The competition was a “virtual” women’s county cricket affair played in “cyber-space” by the top 9 county teams, with a play-off, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final. Syd - who is a computer programmer when he isn’t writing about cricket - wrote a piece of software which simulates matches in full, using real stats from last year’s County Championship (plus a big random element!) The software produces full scorecards and an over-by-over breakdown of events, so we were able to live-tweet matches as they “happened”.

If that’s a bit too complicated, the short version is that Durham eventually beat Surrey in the final by 2 runs. Incidentally, this was the same weekend that a Certain Government Advisor Who Will Remain Nameless was found to have broken the lockdown regulations, which gave rise to several amusing tweets about the team driving to Barnard Castle to celebrate their victory! (See also a tweet from Syd when one player was LBW: “That was never out - ump needs his eyes testing - time for a quick drive to Barnard Castle!”)

Will there be any real women’s cricket any time soon? At the time of writing the answer to that question is still uncertain. The ECB are, however, making very positive noises about a possible tri-series between England, India and South Africa in September. Clare Connor had previously said that men’s international cricket will be prioritised, given that they only have a handful of “biosecure” venues available for use, and that there was a risk of there being no women’s cricket this summer - anything we do get is therefore a nice bonus. Good news as I write is that the England coach Lisa Keightley (who is Australian) has been able to travel back to the UK ready for her side to begin training again on 22 June.

As a journalist I must confess to being intrigued by the process for admitting written press to “biosecure” grounds to cover international cricket. For the England v West Indies Men’s Tests, it looks like this:

• All media access in the run-up to the Tests will be “virtual”.
• ONE Press Association journalist will be allowed to attend each warm-up match to provide free copy.
• Approximately 10 journalists are being allowed to attend the Test matches.
• Journalists will have to be screened (or possibly even fully tested) on their way into the ground.
• Writers will be kept in a sealed-off part of the ground, will not be able to come into contact with any players of staff, and social distancing will have to be maintained within the press box.
• Press conferences will be held “virtually” at the end of each day’s play.

Is it safe? Who can tell. One thing I do know and that is that there will be a lot of disgruntled journalists out there right now - if you don’t make the cut, then tough luck, you won’t be allowed in to cover the match. I’m guessing there will be some kind of “seniority” test whereby the most established writers get priority. Who would make YOUR Top Ten? Answers on a postcard to the editor… let’s see if he dares incur the wrath of the Journalistic Establishment by printing them!!

Raf Nicholson