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2017 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

Previous Page  (From Skirts to Pink Balls - part 1)

From Skirts to Pink Balls (part 2)

I had an interest in computers and what they could in the earliest days, having a scientific background. I bought a BBC micro very early on (no - I realise you'll not have heard of it) and played with writing software in BBC Basic, a language that was definitely 'one-up' on basic Basic (if you see what I mean...). Working with just 64k of RAM initially - yes - I said 64k - note the 'k' - I wrote a database that printed labels for a charity magazine distribution I was involved with and that I could also print out as a simple list for the committee's use. I am still working with that charity to this day. Thus when I became aware of the web I thought - ah, a web site for women's cricket, and this site (then with a different URL) was born.
I have to admit, in total honesty, that one web site beat me to it and that was Roz Tritton with the Oxford University Women's team. However Roz left university and the site became moribund. It has more recently been revived. Thus I can boast of having the oldest continuously updated web site devoted to the sport on the Internet. This site earned a listing in the "GOOD web site GUIDE" in 2005.
In 2002 a new tournament sprung up providing cricket at a level above that of the County Championship in which 48 or so of the top players in the country were divided into four teams to play in the "Super 4s". Originally the teams were allowed to chose their own names. The result was "Braves", Super Strikers", "Knight Riders" and "V Team". At first this was just a 50-over competition. Later a T20 was introduced and the team names changed to that of jewels, "Diamonds", "Emeralds", "Rubies" and "Sapphires".  The colours of the kit did not always reflect the expected colours from the most common version of the stones in question. In the examples below, however, you should be able to guess which team the player represents.

[Beth Morgan]  Don Miles[Isa Guha]  Don Miles

Beth Morgan (left) and Isa Guha

[Jasmine Titmuss]  Don Miles[Anya Shrubsole]  Don Miles

Jasmine Titmuss (left) and Anya Shrubsole

This tournament provided some excellent cricket although no one was really sure of the purpose of these matches. Was it an England trial, or maybe simply a chance for the England players to warm-up against quality opposition? It often seemed like the latter with batsmen like Charlotte Edwards cracking centuries while some of those who might have had hopes of making England one day seemed to be simply canon fodder. I certainly enjoyed watching the results whatever the intention.
In the early 'naughties' digital cameras started to arrive on the scene. Long lenses, necessary for action shots, were however, on the expensive side and rather variable in quality. That didn't prevent shots like that below...

The Sussex Team Leave the Pitch after a Match in 2003
However, for action shots, choose your angle carefully (in this instance the player is running towards you so you can get away with a fairly low shutter speed) and even a poor lens gives a picture which looks OK at the 96dpi of a modern screen. It was fine, of course, in those days when 72dpi was the norm.

Rosalie Birch

Today it's possible, even with a camera that's far from the latest model, to take action shots that will look good when printed at A3 or even larger. But don't try printing them large with your iphone pic.  The iphone is not really a camera for distance work (so I'm told).
In 2005 I decided on my first cricket adventure abroad following Clare Connor's England team to the World Cup around Pretoria in South Africa. The event was to be the swansong of the IWCC, the International Women's Cricket Council. The organisation was wound up at a dinner at the end of that tournament to which I was unexpectedly invited. I had no formal clothes on the trip to wear and declined for that reason, but was told very firmly I would be going with the following advice - "hang a camera over your shoulder and everyone will think you're working". Needless to say I obliged! But I am getting ahead of myself. The trip was most enjoyable; even a brush with an inspector at Jo'burg airport on arrival. He asked if I had any foodstuffs with me and rather jokingly (and possibly unwisely) I said "yes" and unwrapped a bag of sweets. He promptly pinched one and waved me on with a broad smile.
Travelling with the parents of Claire Taylor and the mother of Clare Taylor (confusing isn't it? A solution later attempted by the ECB didn't quite work), we were later joined by Clare Connor's father. I could easily have felt the odd-man-out but the holiday was as relaxing on non-cricket days as it was enjoyable at the matches. England were sadly defeated in the semi-final stage by Australia due in no small part from what I think must be the finest piece of quick bowling I have seen to this day. Cathryn Fitzpatrick was always known to be the quickest around by quite a margin, but that day she had everything, speed, control, swing; it was amazing to watch such a fine bowling performance, even if you sat there wishing another team was on the wrong end of it. Her figures from this match do not reflect the effect she had on the game. Note her 10 overs 3-27 includes England's top three! Clare Connor and Arran Brindle put up a spirited defence and Clare Taylor, running like the wind, gave the score some small respectability. Australia managed three run outs in the reply but crossed the line in 47 overs.

Cathryn Fitzpatrick, possibly the quickest bowler the sport has produced to date, in full flow
at the semi-final against England in the 2005 World Cup.

One amusing incident occurred during the final (in which, incidentally India were robbed of a chance to win by the worst umpiring decision I have ever seen!). Later the umpires called for a TV answer on a line decision. We sat and waited and I heard the England captain's phone beep. It turned out it was her mother from England - "she's out". We knew it before the umpires on the field!
I have to thank South Africa for its hospitality. We played on club grounds around Pretoria almost all of which were of a high standard, food in the restaurants was cheap and of good quality and some of the steaks in the pub around the corner from our small hotel still make my mouth water at the thought of them. I was also introduced to my first game of Rugby Union when we discovered there was a game being played very close to our hotel. It was apparently between two of the best teams in the southern hemisphere as the local "Bulls" took on the "Christchurch Crusaders" from New Zealand. I have long since forgotten who won but it was a new and interesting experience. On a cricket commentary from New Zealand early in 2017 I discovered the ground is one of the iconic grounds of the sport and the commentators were speaking of it in the same terms that for ages I spoke of Newlands, Cape Town - somewhere I simply had to watch a game. It seems I picked the right place for my one and only (to date) rugby union game. Newlands has now been ticked off the 'bucket' list as I'll reveal later.
And incidentally how did the ECB attempt to make it easier to distinguish between two "Taylor"s on the pitch? Simple - you add an initial - but unfortunately two "C.Taylor"s didn't help much.
But South Africa provided so much more than the cricket alone. A safari with an excellent guide produced great views of so many animals... I think I used as many frames on the wildlife as on the cricket - well - very nearly anyway.

A rhino with a youngster who seemed totally unconcerned when we were just a few feet away,
perhaps not a sensible place to be without a very expert guide

A malachite kingfisher contemplates his next meal

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Next Page  : From Skirts to Pink Balls (part 4)