A Ramble on Women's Cricket
[January] And an early start to the year with cricket (although not the women's game) making the national news. The spat between Australia and India, especially the alleged remarks by Singh to Symonds has been exercising the media for several days as I type. I have to admit that my first reaction was, as it was to many on the cricket newsgroups "they can dish it out but they can't take it!". On reflection I wondered if this was a little unfair, the opinion being coloured by the many press interviews with Australia's opponents, obviously given more prominence on this side of the globe.
But - and it turned into a big 'but' - I have heard (though not been able to verify) that a well-know Melbourne paper conducted a survey of the locals only to discover 81% were not happy with the attitude and manner in which their team played the sport. This seems a huge majority! I searched further to find the following articles. They both tell the same side of the story, and I hope the links are still active, but I read them both with interest.
From "The Age"
and from "The Hindu"
I found myself reflecting that although the playing 'might' has been with Australia for some time, the financial clout is now undoubtedly with India and in sport these days money talks. It seems to me only money has kept this series going.
Australia are a great team - or should I qualify that and say "Australia would be a great team" if they just kept winning, kept quiet on the field, and didn't find it necessary to bleat when they receive in kind. I had a great aunt who always had a quotation for every occasion. She died years ago but I can hear her saying "Do as you would be done by!".
Well it seems the furore has stirred the Indian team and the result at Perth may well reflect the fact it is not always a good idea to rile your opponents. I have mentioned that in this column before in regard to one of the finest women's innings I have watched on the domestic scene here in the UK.
Watching some of the play I found myself reflecting that Irfan Pathan, when he held his hand up to his ear to the crowd after taking the ninth wicket, would almost certainly not have made that gesture to any other crowd in the world. It said more about the way the Australians have been playing than it did about the growing confidence of an Indian pace attack, all of whom are younger than Australia's youngest and knew better how to exploit one of the best pace bowling strips in the world.
I received this month news that I personally found very sad indeed. One of the brightest - no one of the greatest - talents in the sport has decided to part company with cricket.
I have watched this sport (erratically in the first few years it's true) since 1993 and in that time seen a handful of players I would say had huge natural talent. It would not seem right to name them, although the fingers of one hand would manage the count, but Johmari Logtenberg was one. I first saw her play in a Test Match between England and South Africa at Shenley where, in her maiden innings she made a graceful 74 at the age of just 14 years. Her last innings for South Africa was a record breaking 153*.
She won the South African Women's Cricketer of the Year Award in 2004 and 2006, twice in the four years the prize has been awarded, and was the country's vice-captain.
If you have not been fortunate enough to see her play then you have missed a treat for her classic technique and cool head made her a player considerably more mature that her years. Had she been born and raised in England, New Zealand or Australia, with the facilities those countries enjoy, she might have been a greater player still, and to accomplish as much as she did in her short career when so much rested on such young shoulders is truly remarkable.
I can remember the first time I saw her in her country's one-day shirt. The number on the back raised a smile - 14 - she had every right to be proud of her early debut. Had she continued playing I can think of no batting record that might have been safe.
To say that South Africa will miss her services is to state the patently obvious. To say women's cricket around the world will, is stating the obvious too!
[Jan 22nd] England have headed south today, bound for Australia and the Ashes series, although temporarily without spinner Holly Colvin who flies out in a few days time with the head of England Women's Cricket, Clare Connor.
I have heard recently that Surrey CCC have funded Ebony Rainford-Brent to go and play in Australia and be available as a reserve if required. I have to say "Good for Surrey" at a time when so many counties, including those whose teams are doing well and should be bringing credit to the clubs, seem to prefer to forgot they exist, especially if money is mentioned.
A T20 is to be played at the MCG as a curtain raiser to a men's game as part of the itinerary - I hope the England management have taken note. It will be interesting to see how this affects the size of the crowd ...
For a comprehensive list of fixtures (and scorecards as the series progresses) try Cricket Archive whose coverage of the women's game is second to none.