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Skirts to Pink Balls - part 2)
From Skirts to Pink Balls (part 3)
Later in 2005 I witnessed a
final ball victory for England that will always stick in my memory.
World Cup wins are great and I have watched the final of two where
England were triumphant, but this day was something else. Now this match sticks most firmly in my mind -
but not entirely for the proceedings
on the field but the feeling of complete satisfaction as I drove home
afterwards. If there was a cricketing perfect day this was it!
There were close calls when I once
contemplated what day I might chose if ever asked and I mention some
of them later, but driving home later that evening I couldn't think of
anything to make this day more complete.
The Attractive Ground at Swans Nest, Stratford-upon-Avon on that day
I had, some 12 years
before, witnessed a victory over Australia at Guildford during the
1993 World Cup. It was actually the first game of women's cricket I
had ever watched. Maybe the victory was part of what drew me to the
sport. What I wasn't aware, of course, was that for the subsequent
period until 2005 England would not manage that again - to win a
single ODI against Australia
at all. However, at Stratford-upon-Avon
(scorecard) the sequence was finally broken!
The crowd grew appreciably during the day at that attractive ground.
I recall teasing one parent who was looking after his youngsters in
the adjacent children's playground. The hedge was particularly thick
and he could only catch the odd glimpse of the players warming up. He
asked me who the teams were. "England and Australia" I said. There was
a pause while he took this in. "Impossible" he said "they'd never play
here!" So I relented and told him it was a women's international.
Somewhat later in the day I noticed him, his wife and their two
children sat on the boundary watching.
Vendors set up stalls and I enjoyed one of the best hog roasts I have
ever tried. Those who know me will realise that could only be followed
by ice-cream. After a nail biting day, Australia needed 3 runs from the
last ball - it was anyone's game. The ball skied off the bat and Isa Guha rushed in to catch it, pausing and allowing it to strike her.
Very quick thinking on Isa's part meant a
catch was not required - simply to prevent the batsmen running 3 runs.
The celebrations were, understandably, quite remarkable. I have
studied the image below very carefully and believe only one of the
England players is out of shot. Even the crowd, many of whom were not
familiar with either the women's game or the history and significance
of this particular event seemed to sense this was an 'occasion'. Fortunately
England's fortunes have been much better more recently as we shall
The Celebrations Begin
Claire Taylor Takes the Player of the Match Award for her Innings of 82
A Photo after the Match of a Group who dubbed themselves "The
Survivors" who had been
at the Match 12 years before when England had last beaten Australia
The day was complete when the skipper
invited me to the team and supporters' BBQ!! I drove home having eaten
far too much following a most splendid day out.
To top it off, 2005 was quite a year
with Sussex winning the County Championship!
Rather more than a decade ago I had
become involved with the Sussex team, having tripped to 'Cambridge', and
have been following their fortunes ever since. I joined the committee
more than 10 years ago and became Chairman only a couple of years later when
Ruth Prideaux wanted to retire from the job and suggested me. To be
asked to follow in such footsteps was a huge compliment.
Sadly we lost Ruth in
There have been many
moments to savour with my home county. Not only have we won the County
Championship on many occasions but at one time we could boast five
players in the England Squad. Wins in the County T20 followed and it
was an unusual year when we failed to come lower than runner-up in one
championship or another. Moments that stick in my mind include
collecting the County Championship trophy one year (2008) in front of a
large enthusiastic crowd at the County Ground at Hove under
the floodlights in the interval of a men's match.
The atmosphere was amazing. Sky, of course,
considered the highlights of the first innings of that match more
important and 'we' never got a mention on the TV coverage that
evening. It would have taken little effort to record
a couple of minutes and slot it in somewhere when the men's game
I hope you don't need me to say why I'm not in the picture!
Rosalie Birch gives Sharky a champagne wash
And talking of county championship wins, I'll not forget the trip to
Buckingham Palace on one of those occasions for the girls to collect
their reward. It wasn't so much the Palace visit itself, although that
was memorable, but the follow up which amused. First we enjoyed a
superb buffet put on by the Lords' Taverners and then climbed on the
coach to go home. On the way the players decided they needed a meal -
how on earth they found room after the Taverners spread I'll never
know - and we found ourselves in a McDonald's (or similar
establishment - I can't recall) the girls in their finery and the
three of us guys in our suits. I am one of those people who never
feels out of place if everyone else has suit and tie and I'm in an
open neck shirt and trainers, always feeling it's the person in the
clothes that matters. This time my normal situation was reversed and
it really was a bit weird.
The year after the above
pictures were taken at the Hove County ground I decided on another
trip following the England team. 2009 saw the World Cup being played
in grounds around Sydney and I grabbed the chance to visit a country
new to me and to get some winter sunshine. Once again I travelled with
the Taylors, only this time it was Sarah's parents and brother who
joined the party with Louise Colvin and Marion Collin - quite a decent
size contingent, which meant quite some research to find a flat with
enough bedrooms. One very close to Darling Harbour did the job
perfectly - it was a splendid setting.
Drummoyne provided one of
the more attractive backgrounds in the out grounds. Here England took
on the West Indies. The facilities left rather a lot to be desired but the
view is nearly perfect. Unknown to me it was St Patrick's Day. A short
walk to the local pub revealed a tight throng and some girls' heads
bobbing up and down at the back of the room. Irish dancing is really
not a great spectator experience with dozens of watchers standing in
front of you.
Drummoyne Cricket Ground, Sydney
At the end of the Super 6
stage New Zealand led the field, just ahead of England on NRR (yes,
the dreaded NRR) with India 3rd and Australia 4th (again an NRR
situation). There being no semi-finals, just a final, Australia lost
out and the White Ferns and England turned up at that most attractive
ground, North Sydney Oval, to fight for the silverware.
England Celebrate their World
Cup Win at North Sydney Oval in 2009
Half an hour in the bar afterwards with
Clare Taylor, her with the Yorkshire sense of
humour, and other friends, and my chest was
aching from laughing. It was a great post match celebration.