2014 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

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Thought for the Day - how does an amateur displace a pro from the England team. Will contracts make it harder to break in ?

Super 3s/4s - two ways forward?

An England Trial?

Having watched a number of the S3s games and heard much discussion near the boundary on the format it seems to me there might be two ways to make this format more useful. So first let's suppose it's an England Trial. There were after all plenty of selectors and back-room staff in evidence at these games so something of the sort must be in the minds of the powers that be.
What does the present set-up tell us?  Well, that Charlotte Edwards is quite capable of knocking off hundreds and that Danni Hazell can take 4 and more wicket hauls. But, hang on - we knew that already, so what new have we learned? That many of the younger bowlers have problems bowling at Edwards, - but just a minute - so do the top flight of Australians, West Indians or that of any other country you might care to name, so nothing to surprise you there then.
It will be in the minds of many England supporters, and no doubt the ECB staff as well, who the regulars in the England team might be. If I had done a straw poll around the boundary asking people to write down their starting XI (assuming no injuries and there's another article there!) there would be a hard core of 7 or 8 (maybe more) names on everyone's list. Can I suggest we remove them from the tournament. They are in the squad and that's it!
Now pick your teams with the best of the rest. A much more even playing field arises and bowlers who never get the chance to bowl will get an allocation, and batsman at numbers 5 and lower who might well have had to sit and watch Edwards or Knight make a big score, now have a better chance of showing the selectors what they can do. I feel huge sympathy for those taking part currently who must feel they are just there as canon fodder to field, or get to bat so low they have no chance of constructing an innings but have to thrash for 3 or 4 overs in the interests of the team..
Now I know the counter argument  - that bowlers need to dismiss Edwards and batsman dispatch Hazell to the boundary, but to do that they do need to get a bowl and a bat, something that only a few may do currently depending on how the game goes.
Of course you could take a completely different tack and decide you want to make the tournament 'marketable'.

A 'Commercial' Proposition?

If you have potentially the best 36/48 players in the country present, and England now attracts a reasonable number of 'bums on seats' could this be the next layer to increase awareness of the sport? If you wish to take this approach then you need to take quite a number of things into account.

# The England regulars would need to be included - you must have the big names.
# A decent venue needs to be found which has...

  • ample car parking.

  • easily accessible toilet facilities including disabled.

  • availability of drinks and refreshments.

  • good batting track and scoreboard

  • local club or county who are active in promoting the game rather than the many who are luke warm. (see the example of Louth for the England game a season ago to show how good publicity can make a huge difference.)

  • preferably fairly central location or games played at different venues to spread it around the country

.... all of which (or nearly all) rule out Loughborough.
# Plenty of publicity including ECB web site etc - don't rely on Play-Cricket which even the regulars find too labyrinthine, more so in its new incarnation. You need ECB, Cricket Archive and CricInfo Coverage and especially perhaps the BBC site (and hopefully even this one...).
# Plenty of press coverage local and national.
# Probably (and sadly) make it a T20 format which seems to be the style the public most likes and make it two matches end to end. One match alone at this level is unlikely to attract many but a day's cricket and not half a day has a better chance of pulling people from further afield. Those who wish can obviously turn up for one game only.
# Make only a very nominal charge with under 16s free.
# Ask the local county girls under-15s to be ball-girls. Not only are you engaging the youngsters but there's a few parents who'll want (have) to come. And don't give me any 'health and safety' nonsense on that idea. Security men regularly face the crowd at Lord's at great risk to themselves, while U-15 girls will be paying attention and well aware of what a hard ball is like. Any even half-hearted attempt at assessment will tell you who is at the greater risk! I have yet to come across a story anywhere around the world of a ball boy/girl who plays cricket being injured doing that job.

And What About County Cricket?

If we are trying to spread the word about this sport, why is it so hard to find out where the County teams are playing? I have not trawled the 'Net to any great degree but I have yet to find a County Cricket Club web site that gives the fixtures - INCLUDING VENUES - and the ECB's web site doesn't as far as I know. I've probably said enough about Play-Cricket already.
Women's and Girls' County cricket must be one of the best kept sporting secrets, and I have long puzzled why it should be so. Members of the public can't be expected to hunt through the pages of Play-Cricket when, even if they find what they are looking for, it is likely not up to date. A reliable and easy to follow source of this basic information is vitally needed if the County teams are not to continue playing to a crowd of interested parents and nobody else!

Looking Forward and Back

I started watching this sport in 1993 and so much has happened it's breath taking.  I cannot heap enough praise on Barbara Daniels (for sorting the WCA/ECB merger) and Clare Connor for the game-changing work they have done. The game then and now is as chalk and cheese.
Having come so far it would seem to be the next steps are relatively simple compared with what's been accomplished. I know all the ideas above cost money and there are only so many ways you can cut the pot - an expression my grandfather used to use when surveying his winning at cribbage. Now England is well funded, lets see if we can't help out those playing at the next level down who may be England stars of the future. Currently playing County cricket costs players considerable sums  -  help with travel , kit etc. and other expenses would be very welcome. When I watched in 1993 it was (almost) a rich girls' hobby, It still calls for financial sacrifices from parents and older players and I am always left wondering how much talent has disappeared from the scene because money was a factor.
If you have any thoughts on the above I'd be glad to receive them - donjmiles - at - gmail.com. Just let me know if they are confidential or for publication with or without your name attached.
I'm most encouraged to see Sky Sports web site including an article on County cricket.
***A Footnote  : Around 500 people watched the clash between Sussex and Kent at Arundel last weekend.  They saw more than 500 runs scored. Have we had a crowd like that before? Not even when playing at the County Ground. I'll agree the weather was fine and we were playing at one of the top three most attractive grounds in the country, and, it would seem, the 5 parking charge scared few, if any, away.
Why was this? Good publicity!

This flyer was the be found on a number of web sites and featured at the County Ground. It was widely circulated by the 'social media'  and, thanks probably to Beth Wild's efforts, provided an article on Sky Sports web site as mentioned above. Martin Davies' blog, no doubt much read, included references to the game as did other web sources.
That's how to get crowds to county games the size of which England would have envied relatively few years ago. It's not 'rocket salad' as a character in one of my favourite sitcoms regularly remarked and it's not even very expensive. More of the same please...

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