World Cup Win Just The Start?
An England team winning the World Cup is a rare thing.
In my life time I can only think of four occasions where an England team (or any other home nation for that matter) has won a World Cup – the 2003 Rugby World Cup and, now, a third ICC Women’s World Cup.
Sunday’s victory for Heather Knight and her team was not just significant because, as a sporting nation, we so rarely get to celebrate team success of this nature, but also because of the opportunities it has now presented.
Whilst I will make no claims to hold any form of expertise on women’s cricket, it is not hard to see the growth which that are of the game has undergone in recent years.
The WBBL and KSL have given women’s domestic cricket a greater presence on the sporting landscape, the standard of play continues to rise and, if they weren’t before, players such as Sarah Taylor and Anya Shrubsole are becoming household names among British sports fans.
To it’s credit, the ECB has tried new initiatives, such as soft ball cricket, to aid this growth whilst the ICC went to great lengths to promote this World Cup, backed up by some excellent television, radio and written coverage.
The end result? Arguably (if it’s even an argument) the most successful Women’s cricket tournament ever; perhaps even the most successful cricket tournament ever held in England (and with our status as one of the sport’s big three we have been afforded many opportunities to play host…).
Naturally it has spawned a number of think pieces over the past 48-hours – and perhaps this very blog post could be considered one – but that was both inevitable and understandable.
As a nation, we do not have a great track record of building on a ‘moment’ such as this.
Just look at the UK’s Olympic legacy; practically non-existent just 5 years on from London 2012.
But here, women’s cricket has a golden opportunity to kick on in England and around the world (with beaten finalists India seemingly lighting a fuse across the cricket mad nation as a result of their efforts).
Importantly, and somewhat personally for me, England’s success also smashed a stereotype which, despite great efforts, does linger a little too often still: ‘girls don’t play cricket’.
Those are not my words, somewhat disappointingly they are the words of my 5-year-old daughter, who is very literal about a lot of things and, thus far, has only seen the local town side play – which, despite having four Saturday teams and two Sunday teams, is comprised almost entirely of male cricketers.
This is not a criticism per se, because it is bloody difficult to field six sides in a weekend AND have a good junior development programme. It is not my intention to bash any club, far from it. This is an opportunity for all.
To broaden horizons, reach out and boost the game at every level – both in terms of participation but also financially as larger numbers of people from across the community get involved.
My own experiences are not so different to some others I would suggest, as was essentially confirmed by FORMER ENGLAND CAPTAIN Paul Collingwood at the weekend:
If having a dad who played internationally, won The Ashes and captained the national side can’t convert you, what can? Well, now we know!
I’ll happily admit my boyhood hero was former Nottinghamshire batsman Paul Johnson (closely followed by Chris Read); similarly the opportunity to put a Nat Sciver, Tammy Beaumont or Heather Knight poster on the wall of girls bedrooms across the UK should not be sniffed at.
Sporting heroes matter to kids. The idea that they could, like Anya Shrubsole, realise their dream matters too.
I don’t know if my daughter will ever choose to follow in my footsteps and play cricket – she will find the things that make her happy and I’ll always do everything I can to support that – but it feels like a barrier has been broken down and the road ahead is much brighter for the women’s game, and the sport as a whole.
And that is fantastic.
Posted on July 25, 2017, in Domestic Cricket, England, Women's Cricket, Women's World Cup 2017 and tagged Domestic Cricket, England, Women's Cricket, Women's World Cup 2017. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.