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since 1997 Feb 16

2019 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

Previous Page : Jenny Gunn Retires


A Look Backwards and Forward

What We Knew and an Uncertain Future

It's hard to know how to start typing this (no deja-vue intended).


Firstly there were quite a number of good-byes, and I'm not especially thinking of just players here.  True I had to say a farewell to a number of them whom I had grown very accustomed to over the years, not least Jenny Gunn who has played at the highest level for longer than anyone I can recall. 


[Jenny Gunn]


This is an image from July 2001, a time when I was a real novice at cricket photography and equipment not what it is today. If women's cricket has come a long way since Jenn started playing then so have digital cameras and lenses to those who can't afford, of don't wish to spend, five figure sums on equipment.


[Jenny Gunn] 

Jenn batting and bowling in 2019 for her county, Notts


[Jenny Gunn] 

I am not sure that the difference between the older and the newer images will be so obvious as you peer at your screen as the size of server space available inevitably means low resolution is required to avoid a few shots using all the bytes; the older shot would be embarrassing if printed at A4 while the later ones will easily produce pin sharp images at A3 (twice the size) and acceptable images at A2 (twice the size again).


When I started watching this sport (1993) I became familiar at first with international matches and only a year or two later with county cricket. The latter was an eye opener to me. This was how the players learned their trade, and had great fun doing it. After a couple of years I latched on to Sussex as my 'home' county and trips to 'Cambridge' - the 5 days of the count championship - was the highlight of the year. The atmosphere was friendly, access to the players easy, and that prompted me to become involved in the management side of things.  I doubt that would have happened had players been kept at 'arms length'.


And then along came tournaments like the Super 4s. For those not familiar with those times it was essentially the top 48 (or so) players in the country competing in four teams. For a spectator like me it was a feast of cricket but the sad thing about the relatively few years this tournament was played was that the purpose of the games was never very clear.


[Ebony Rainford-Brent]


Ebony Rainford-Brent (above) and Kate Cross in Super 4s kit


[Kate Cross]


There were occasions when well established players knocked up the centuries (that Edwards girl pre-eminent) so, as she had inevitably spent quite a while at the crease there was little time for the 'will they make England' players to have a go. Now if the purpose was to warm up the recognised players for the coming internationals it probably succeed but the stated objective was to give the 'maybes' a chance to fight their way in. Some did but I always felt sorry for others who seemed to be either cannon fodder or just involved as fielders. There were remarks from the 'management' that the standard wasn't high enough and maybe three teams would be more to the point but I always had the feeling that such suggestions had more to do with the lack of cash in the women's game than they did with the standard of the cricket.


Latterly we've had the Kia Super League to provide some entertainment and to bring new faces to the crowds at women's games, where previously any match not an international was watched by the parents and the traditional one man and his dog (and the dog sometimes stayed away!). The stated objective at the start was that 50-over matches would also be played but that never materialised (money again?) as the search became rather more for bums on seats and not for improving the number of players who might play at the top level. At first there were sufficient players who had been 'brought up' on 50-over format for the cracks not to show. Some would argue that that time is fast disappearing.


All that makes matters a little frightening as we dust off our crystal ball. Firstly, and I would argue most significantly, the county championship is disappearing, the bedrock on which the sport has been based for decades. Many of the players involved have a fierce loyalty to their county and it's hard to see how such a strong feeling could be engender by playing for a regional team. I am not suggesting players won't play  and give it their all, but is that going to be the same as pulling on a Sussex or Kent shirt? Many will be sad to leave them behind. Fortunately age-group cricket will continue at county level where the trick will be to try and hold time and not pass your 17th birthday or you may well find yourself dropping a level of play for a local club. Nothing wrong with playing for club but anyone who has donned a county short will feel that ONLY having club cricket as an option is not quite the same. Will some leave the sport, or even not take it up in the first place fearing the cut off at 18? I have no idea - only time will tell us - but it is a risk. It also tends to suggest that someone, somewhere doesn't believe that some players develop late, something I would dispute. Anyway cricket should not be directed ONLY to supporting those who either play for England of have aspirations to do so. That's an abrogation of duty.


The other thing that is preying on my mind is this new competition which they are calling the Hundred. As you will know this has been met with whatever the opposite is of universal acclaim. If T20 has meant a diminution of the opportunity to allow players to develop, then this format is even shorter! It would seem it also has the problem of changing a number of the Laws of the game. At first it was stated it would be simplified to help non-cricket watchers to understand, rather patronisingly implying (or even stating?) that was women. If there's one change to the men's side of the game that I've noticed over 60 years of watching it is that the proportion of women in the crowd has increased enormously and that it patently wasn't a lack of understanding that had kept them away. Today the numbers of men and women are not far off equal on the big occasions. You may, with this new format, be trying the mend something that isn't actually broken. Indeed the decent crowds at the Kia Super League (greater than you'd find at men's county cricket) have shown there's an appetite to watch the sport if principally in a shorter format. I am not sure making it shorter still is going to make any difference, except possibly keeping away those who feel we have enough formats already. That incidentally is the view of every overseas player I have asked about this. Some have even treated the suggestion that they'd be playing it shortly (proffered with tongue in cheek) with derision. So now you are encouraging players to learn a new format which is extremely unlikely to be played internationally - not in my opinion a very sensible move for those involved on the international scene.


I also get annoyed and frustrated when I hear or read of some of the nonsense that's said and written about the game. Rather than bore you with a catalogue let me give you two recent examples. Firstly I noticed on social media a newspaper cutting suggestion Mitchell Starc and Alyssa Healy took home equal pay packets.  I don't think we need to comment further on that one!  Also someone suggested that Sussex were ahead of the other counties - in what respect wasn't exactly clear. Now I always like to hear my old county is being praised but I really can't follow the logic here. True there will be T20 matches for the next couple of years - ONLY T20 I should say - but then there will not even be a county team to e ahead of anyone.  After the ECB decided to abandon senior county cricket many of the counties decided to abandon their women's teams. So much for men supporting the women! I can only pray for a change of mind here on the part of those men on the Boards of the various counties. Can they find (or are they prepared to find) the petty cash that's all that's involved in running this side?


So what's for me in 2020? Well I'll be boundary riding as usual I hope, camera in hand. With the lack of county cricket there's no doubt I'll be watching more age-group and club cricket than I have in the last few years. I have always enjoyed watching the U-15 and U-17s in particular and trying to spot those who may go on to greater things.


[Ella McCoughan]


Ella McCaughan playing for the Sussex U15s - a player whose natural talent was obvious at this age

(and probably well before that!)


During the end of the season I had watched the counter on this site climbing rather faster than previously. I found myself wondering if it might make it to 400,000 by the end of they year. To my surprise, after the season ended, the visitor count did not fall off to anything like the extent I had expected. As I type this (Dec 29) it is sitting around 5,000 more than the target I had hoped for.


Today it's at... 

Visitors to this site
since 1997 Feb 16

Before I sign of for 2019 I have to suggest you take a look at this... CRICKETher's review of the year

Syd Egan and Raf Nicholson

There is much here with which I'd agree but I'd like to pick up on a couple of points. Firstly there was England's sporting declaration at Taunton. Many around the press box, myself included, had been saying they should declare behind but I'm not sure anyone thought they'd have the courage to do so. Well, they did! And all praise to the England management for that decision. The surprise was the Australian decision to put up shop. It was contrary to what we all believed the Australians to be - a courageous and attacking side. To fall back on the defensive when they had an excellent chance of victory was rather odd.  It reminded me of an instance, many years ago, when I suggested to an Australian player at the end of a match that their team should have declared behind. The expression on her face told me it hadn't even occurred to them. Well it occurred to England and showed they had the fighting spirit.


The other was to agree with Raf's 'Moment of the Year' in the domestic game. In fact I'd say that along with Fran Wilson's amazing catch against the WIndies this was the highlight of the entire summer for me.



Yet another 6 flies off the bat of Danni Wyatt at Arundel


We'll have to see what 2020 brings. Let's hope it's some proper cricket i.e. 50-over somewhere on the calendar.
So I trust you enjoyed your Christmas and I wish all visitors a happy and healthy New Year, and thanks for continuing to support women's cricket and visiting this site. I hope to meet you on a boundary somewhere in 2020. If you spot me, do say "hello".

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