Wednesday, January 30, 2013

10 Not Out: 10 things you didn't know about previous Women's World Cups

In the first in a series of Women's World Cup-themed blogs, here are some little-known facts about previous World Cups which I have come across in the course of my research. Enjoy!

1. The first World Cup "final", held at Edgbaston in July 1973, was not really a final at all. The tournament was essentially a round robin, with each team playing every other team once. 4 points were gained for a victory and 1 point for a tie, and the team with the most points would win. It was simply a lucky coincidence that the outcome of the tournament did in fact hinge on the outcome of the final tournament match, played between England and Australia.

2. Men were not permitted to umpire in the first World Cup. The two umpires in the final were Jane Ayres and Sheila Hill (later Chairman of the Association of Cricket Umpires).

3. The second World Cup (staged in India in January 1978) was originally to have been held in South Africa. For obvious reasons, this was later discounted as a venue by the International Women's Cricket Council.

4. Dickie Bird was one of the umpires used during the third World Cup (held in New Zealand in 1982).

5. The MCC refused the Women's Cricket Association's request to hold the 1973 World Cup final at Lord's.

6. The 1993 World Cup, held in England, was almost cancelled due to a lack of available funds. Luckily the Foundation for Sport and the Arts saved the day with a last minute donation of £90,000.

7. After the Australians won the 1997 World Cup, and it became more widely known that they had each paid $700 to take part, a hotel owner in Bendigo, Victoria, donated $15,000 towards their costs. Cathryn Fitzpatrick, the team's star fast bowler, said simply: "We'll be heading up to his pub for a few celebratory beers."

8. New Zealand's captain, Emily Drumm, played the entire 2000 tournament with a broken finger. (Take note, David Warner.) The upside was that New Zealand were triumphant in the final, winning by 4 runs.

9. The price of tickets to 2005 World Cup matches in South Africa was just R20 (£1.80). I think they may have been worried about low turnout...

10. (This is my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE.) Before the 1993 tournament kicked off, there was some debate amongst teams over the appropriate length of intervals. Eventually it was agreed that the tea interval would be 20 minutes - BUT the umpires were empowered to extend this to 30 minutes if desired. Why might this have been necessary? Apparently the female toilet facilities at some grounds were "lamentably inadequate". You get the idea.

The victorious England squad, 1973.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"A difficult situation, not of cricket's making", or On the Blokeyness of Cricket

In what is possibly the most disingenuous statement I have ever heard, on Friday the ICC issued a comment regarding the movement of the Women's World Cup away from the Wankhede Stadium to allow its use for the men's Ranji Trophy.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: ''I am grateful for all the support ICC has received from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) during a difficult situation, which was not of cricket's making."
(See )

Erm, nope.

This situation is entirely of cricket's making.

This situation is the result of countless cricket journalists, pundits, and institutions throughout history regarding cricket as a cherished male cultural space (note: when women first played at Lord's, it was described as an "invasion"). It's the result of years of comments from male cricketers along the lines of Len Hutton's incredulous "women playing cricket is like a man trying to knit". As all historians will tell you (and not purely for self-validation purposes...ahem), history matters. In this case, cricket's male-dominated history matters.

Yes, it's changing for the better. Yes, my cricketing heroes like Atherton and Dravid are now declaring in national newspapers that women's cricket is a Good Thing. But I still believe that in many ways, cricket remains (for want of a better word) Blokey. The default image of a cricketer is a bloke. The default image of a cricket fan is a bloke. Most cricket journalists (and bloggers, let's face it) are men. Most cricket administrators are men.

I could go on more about this, but for now I'll just say this: I love cricket. I'm also a feminist. Sometimes the two things are hard to hold together.

This - the feeble way in which the ICC has chosen to respond to the BCCI's decision - is one of those times.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Getting Women Out

So, the BCCI has surpassed itself by deciding to move all Women's World Cup matches out of the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai to a variety of other stadiums in Mumbai. Why? Because the Mumbai Cricket Association now wants to use Wankhede for the final of the men's Ranji Trophy. (See here: and here:

I've come across many examples of this type of blatant relegation of women's cricket to the bottom of the priority list in my research, and it's one of the things that makes me angriest (yesterday I had a lovely session at my desk fuming; today I decided to actually do something productive and write a blog entry. Still fuming though.)

The British Women's Cricket Association came up against it back in the 1950s. The Association often spent long periods negotiating with the English county authorities over which grounds they might be permitted to use, and the dates on which they might be able to use them. This involved booking the grounds up to 3 years in advance when the WCA knew they would be staging a major international match. Thus when it came to arrangements for the 1954 New Zealand Women's tour of England, they had already booked Trent Bridge to use for the second Test match by the start of the 1952 season. Then, in December 1952, the venue had to be changed. Why? Because the MCC decided they wanted to use the Trent Bridge ground on the dates the WCA had previously applied for and fixed, for the (men's) England-Pakistan Test.

The Women's Test of July 1954 ended up being played at the New Road Ground, Worcester (it was drawn). Meanwhile Pakistan played at Nottingham in only their second official Test series, and lost to England by an innings and 129 runs.

The situation was similar in Australia. In the 1934/5 and 1948/9 women's Ashes series, the women's teams played Tests at both the SCG and the MCG and secured crowds in the region of 9000 (similar, apparently, to Shield match attendance in the same years). But for the 1957/8 Test series the Australian Women's Cricket Council was unable to secure either of these grounds (although they did play at the WACA and the Adelaide Oval). The Sydney Test was relegated to the North Sydney Oval and the Melbourne Test to St Kilda.

This wasn't actually because of a particular scheduling conflict, as far as I can make out. The authorities at those grounds just didn't think it was worthwhile hosting England Women there. And before we get complacent and decide that this was all a long time ago and doesn't matter very much, it's worth remembering that not a single women's Test match has been staged at the MCG or SCG since 1949.

Last example: the first time women played at Lord's was in 1976 (I'll probably write about that another time). It was a pretty big occasion, an England-Australia ODI, but it was also a bloody long time in coming, considering the WCA had asked the MCC to play a match there at regular intervals since 1929, and had come up against persistent refusals. But what is also noteworthy is that the women might well have got booted out of Lord's then too, if the Gillette Cup had worked out differently.

The 1976 Gillette Cup quarter-finals were scheduled for the same day as the WCA had scheduled their ODI against Australia, August 4th. Apparently the MCC agreed to host the women's ODI only on the proviso that Middlesex were not playing in a Cup quarter-final at home on that day. Alas for all Middlesex supporters (including myself, but my loyalties would have been with England Women on this occasion), they lost in their second round match against Lancashire, and never made it through to the quarter-finals at all.

So the WCA got their Ladies' Day at Lord's and England Women beat Australia Women by 8 wickets at the home of cricket. Yay!

What point am I making here? Basically, the BCCI's decision sits as the latest in a long line of decisions made for the good of men's cricket at the expense of its female counterpart. And that's why so little fuss is being made about this decision. And that's also why even though I'm fuming, I'm not actually too surprised. Because even in the age of global semi-professional women's cricket, this kind of prioritisation is still okay.

The BCCI has seen its fair share of controversy in recent times. Unlike its previous decisions, this latest move, while extraordinarily offensive to fans of the women's game, is probably not even on the radar of most cricket fans. It should be.

Australia v New Zealand T20s

Australia women played two consecutive T20Is against New Zealand women at Melbourne today. This seems a little bizarre to me, but okay, I'll let it slide.

In the first match of the day, Australia managed 151-7 in their 20 overs, despite being 15-3 early on in their innings, thanks largely to Lanning's 76 in 56 balls.

New Zealand responded with 152-4, winning by 6 wickets with 2 balls remaining. Their victory was enabled by an exciting 54 run fifth wicket partnership between MacKay (24*) and Browne (34*).

In the second match, the Kiwis finished with 132-6 (Bates 32, Satterthwaite 44), suffering from a late batting collapse (going from 121-2 to 130-6). Lanning again top-scored for the Aussies with 64, with Australia finishing on 135-5 and winning by 5 wickets in the penultimate ball of their 20 overs.

You can find the scorecards here:
and here:

This isn't really supposed to be a detailed match analysis (as you might have guessed). More, as a cricket purist (as much as it's possible to be with the women's game, when Test matches are now as likely to happen as a Warne Ashes comeback), to make the following point:

On the same pitch, on the same day, the results of these two T20 matches were almost completely reversed.

If that can happen, then don't try telling me T20 isn't hit and miss.

Friday, January 18, 2013

"The all-male cricket party is over"

There has been a lot of discussion over the past few days regarding the news that Sarah Taylor may play some matches for Sussex (men's) 2nd XI this season, as a reserve wicket-keeper. Much of this has been along the lines of praising the development as being welcome and, indeed, far too late in coming - see:

But if Taylor's selection, and the idea of mixed cricket generally, is such a positive move for female cricketers, why did the Women's Cricket Association (WCA, the governing body of the sport until it merged with the ECB in 1998) ban matches with men until 1970?

The WCA sets its face inflexibly against cricket with men. (1934)

Might there be another side to this story of seemingly linear progress towards fully mixed cricket?

The WCA's ban on official mixed cricket matches was enforced right from its formation in 1926. One of the founders of the Association, Marjorie Pollard (by all accounts an extremely formidable woman), wrote a book in 1934 entitled 'Cricket for Women and Girls' in which she outlined the reasoning behind this policy. There were three main reasons why Pollard felt mixed cricket would be a bad thing for the women's game, and all three still hold true today.

Firstly, Pollard was keen to stress that the pioneers of women's cricket in the 1930s needed to "develop a style and a game of our own".

No one tries to bowl as fast as Larwood, no one tries to hit like Constantine...the standards are different.

Imitating the men's game was not going to cut it. These pioneers of women's cricket needed to work out their own ways of playing the game they loved, to adapt it to their own needs. As Pollard put it:

batting for women is different - the strokes that we need are drives, and pulls, or anything that really hits the ball.

The bowling was also different. Less fast-paced (even less so in the 1930s than now), and therefore a need for more skilled placement of the ball.

This is still the case today; the biggest fans of women's cricket would not deny that it is a different game in many ways to men's cricket. But note that Pollard did not say that the women's game was in any way WORSE than the men's game. In fact, she argued that in some ways the "outlook, attack and method of self-expression" of the women's game led to a greater focus on skill and less on physical intimidation, which she saw as positive (and indeed was recognised as such by many English commentators at the height of the Lillee and Thomson era!) The problem with mixed cricket is that it suggests precisely the opposite to this: that the women's game is inferior to the men's game, and that female cricketers should in some way attempt to match up to the men. As Selma James states in this article,

Women who have broken through the glass ceiling in other areas have changed our perception of what women can accomplish. But it has rarely changed the rules and possibilities for most of us. We prove we are as good as men, and men are once again the standard that women must strive for.

Do we really want women cricketers to be striving to be "as good as" male ones? Do we really want the media coverage of women's cricket to be dominated by men talking about what a "big step up" it is from the women's game to the men's game, and how they'll never be able to cope with truly fast bowling? Don't we want women's cricket to be covered in its own right and on its own terms? The WCA did.

Pollard's second, related, point was that in order for women's cricket to be taken seriously by the general public, women needed to be seen to be playing the game in a meaningful manner. For the decade after the formation of the WCA in 1926, female cricketers faced a huge amount of media ridicule. Letters and articles in national newspapers described women's cricket as "a joke", and "a sacrilege". The type of mixed matches which were taking place at this time would only have enhanced this ridicule: for example, in men v women matches, the men often batted with broom handles or with one hand tied behind their back. Pollard and the WCA wanted to move way from the perception that women were this laughably inferior to their male counterparts. They wanted, more than anything, to be taken seriously and considered as cricketers in their own right. As Pollard wrote:

it is so often cropping up in the Press. We are told that we shall never play cricket like men...Men will not realize that we do not want to play like men.

This statement seems to me equally applicable in today's media climate. For the last few days, in every single discussion I have heard on this subject, the same questions have come up. Won't Taylor's male opponents feel they have to slow down their bowling when she faces them? How will she possibly cope in such a fast-paced game? And the old chestnut, what if she gets hurt?! (Because there's clearly more of a risk to Taylor than there was to all those England players facing Lillee and Thomson in 1974-5 WITHOUT HELMETS.) There is a danger with this kind of coverage that it becomes extremely patronising (some of it has been, some of it less so). But this type of coverage also, to reinforce the point I made above, takes the focus away from the actual cricket. Will the women's World Cup make it on to the front page of the Guardian next month? I somehow doubt it.

Thirdly, Pollard was quite firm about the WCA's intentions as a governing body: "We do not wish to follow, we wish to go our own way - run our own Association, play our own cricket in our own way." The WCA would not initially let men serve on its Executive Committee and were never keen on utilising male umpires or coaches. Why? Because they recognised the importance of having control of their own sport, making decisions about the way they wanted to play the game themselves. Sussex's recent statement that whether Taylor plays depends on "further assessment" (see reminds us that it is a group of male selectors who will decide whether Taylor will play for them this season, regardless of any media furore surrounding that decision. The 1998 merger of the WCA with the ECB has brought with it countless benefits for the women's game, but it also appears that more and more of the decisions affecting female cricketers are being taken by men.

The idea of men controlling women's cricket is entirely in contradiction with the vision of the WCA back in 1926 and frankly, if women had sat back and relied on the efforts of men to launch and establish women's cricket in Britain (and elsewhere), the sport would probably have been set back by at least fifty years. A cricket set-up that is fully mixed will only advance male control of the women's game and I'm not convinced this is an entirely positive thing for the women involved.

Why did the WCA change its policy in 1970? It was not done with the desire to promote mixed cricket at a serious level. Instead it was a recognition of the trend towards holding matches of men's against women's teams for fundraising purposes. The money-making potential of such matches was not to be sniffed at by an entirely amateur body that relied on donations to fund international cricket tours. It was a decision made for practical purposes and the WCA continued to argue that serious mixed cricket was an unlikely and probably undesirable prospect.

Evidently Taylor is an excellent player and nothing should take away from the fact that if she does play for Sussex, it will be a fantastic achievement for her personally. However, let's not get carried away. Colin Cowdrey wrote the following back in 1976, in the foreword to Netta Rheinberg and Rachael Heyhoe-Flint's history of women's cricket, Fair Play:

The all-male cricket party is over.
How many men will be playing for their counties by the 1980s, I wonder?...there will be Maids of Kent aplenty challenging Denness, Luckhurst, Asif, Shepherd and Julien. Bachelor Alec Bedser may find himself, as Chairman of Selectors, having to consort with four ladies. Mighty Tony Greig can no longer rest secure in his size and strength, mindful that brute force alone did not keep Goliath going too long

Decades later, that vision looks overly optimistic. Will it ever come to bear? It seems to me both unlikely and not necessarily something which female cricketers, and fans of the women's game, should aspire to.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

(It) Runs in the family

I noticed this story on cricinfo recently, about twin sisters and West Indian women cricketers Kyshona and Kycia Knight:

Twenty-year old Kyshona Knight is the only uncapped player in West Indies' 15-member squad for the upcoming Women's World Cup in Mumbai. Kyshona will join her twin sister Kycia Knight in the team led by wicketkeeper-batsman Merissa Aguilleira.

"It is a great feeling to be selected in the West Indies team with my sister," Kyshona said. "This is a dream for both of us.

"I wanted to join her from the time she made the team last year and I'm pretty excited right now that our dream of playing together for the West Indies has been realised. Not many sisters, especially twins, play the same sport and achieve similar success."

This made me think about families which produce multiple cricketers. Obviously there are many famous examples of this within the men's game, but because so little is known about the history of women's cricket, the female equivalents of the Chappells tend to go unnoticed. (More on that another time.)

Intriguingly, there are also numerous examples of brother/sister, husband/wife, aunt/nephew (etc) partnerships, where each has played cricket at a high level.

One recent example is New Zealand's latest Test debutant, James Franklin, whose aunt Jean Coulston played five Tests for New Zealand back in the 1950s ( She averaged 10.85 over that time. Actually, she'd probably make the current men's squad, judging by recent performances.

Other famous examples include:

1. Sunil Gavaskar's sister, Nutan. She played club cricket in Bombay while her brother was brightening up Indian cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, and later became Secretary of the Women's Cricket Association of India.

2. Richard Hadlee's wife, Karen. According to cricinfo, she played just one ODI for New Zealand, in 1978. However, she also had an illustrious career for Canterbury during the 1970s, and apparently once took 10 wickets for 12 runs in a minor match.

3. Freddie Brown's sister, Aline. Aline toured Australia and New Zealand in 1948/9 (two years before her brother captained the men's touring team to Australia, and lost the Ashes 4-1), but she did not play in any of the Tests. Nonetheless, she was a talented and economical bowler and played in several of the other Tour matches.

4. Australia's Terry Alderman has a younger sister, Denise (Emerson), who played Test cricket for Oz during the 1980s, and opened the batting during the 1982 Women's World Cup (held in New Zealand), which was won by Australia.

These are just four of the most illustrious examples. It has struck me quite forcefully that almost every female cricketer who I've spoken to can trace her involvement in the sport back to her father or brother(s). Certainly that's the case for me. When I write the acknowledgements for my thesis, my dad is getting a whole heap of credit for being the person who introduced me to this weird and wonderful game, and taught me to love it.

Thanks, Dad.