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A Ramble on Women's Cricket
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Which Came First?
There have been a number of articles about women's participation in cricket published in the newspapers and elsewhere during the last six months. All have concentrated, not unreasonably you may feel, on the number of women playing the game.
I have to admit on being very unsure on how many that really is. The advent of softball, which I loudly applaud, has certainly meant many more women with either a bat or ball in their hand but is that really playing cricket? Maybe it is, or more importantly, from the way I view it, will that it encourage more women and girls to play 'the real thing'? Please don't for a moment think I am against softball in any way, or indeed any of the other initiatives recently launched to get more people playing something akin to the game. I am all for anything of this nature!!! What I am still unsure about is how many of those participants will take up hard-ball 50-over or T20 cricket at any level at all from club and, hopefully, on up.
Let's hope they do in their droves.
But I started typing this piece with a completely different thing on my mind and, as often happens to me, diverted into a slightly related topic. But back to what I was originally thinking about.
Long before many (or perhaps all) of these initiatives I had noticed a trend indicating that women were getting more involved with the sport. I know that from time immemorial women have done the teas, run kids to and from games, and likely scored while their husbands and sons play out in the middle. May they continue to do so, but I was thinking of the fact that, lodged comfortably on my sofa watching my favourite sport on the box, I was noticing a change. There seemed to be many more women of all ages in the crowds on a day when only the men are playing.
Now when this first occurred to me, women's cricket appeared on the TV as often as hen's teeth in the farmyard - well, nearly anyway! Was I imagining it? As a lad sitting on the grass near the boundary rope at Hove (those were the days!) I can only recall seeing very few of the opposite gender, and they might well be there under sufferance, with head in a book or staring at a knitting pattern. Now I know far fewer women knit these days but they probably still read in equal number. They could now peer at a tiny screen in their hand, of course, and live in a virtual world rather than the real one.
Now I'd like to back this idea up with pictures, but in my youth I didn't carry a camera to matches - I simply could afford the kind of kit that would have been any use, and that's apart from the consideration of getting it across most of Brighton and a slice of Hove on a bicycle. (What did I do with that bike while the match was on? I simply can't remember).
In recent years I have the excuse that now I have the kit, I very rarely watch a men's game unless it's the second fixture following the main event of a women's match. One might expect more women to be in the crowd at these events anyway.
Am I wrong in thinking women started following as watchers before the growth in the sport in terms of players? I don't think so... And if I'm right I wonder why it happened that way round...