Changing the boundaries: Girls and Cricket
As a child, Test Match Special was the soundtrack to my summer, and watching cricket on the village green was my weekly spectator sport. I’ve watched England play cricket in Australia. I’ve watched them win test matches as well as lose many. I’ve been very lucky to witness many memorable cricketing moments and now I share my passion with my son who lives for cricket. I love cricket but when I had a go as a youngster, I was one of the only girls and I found it excruciatingly embarrassing. What’s the state of the game for girls now?
Thanks to the men’s and women’s England cricket teams, cricket has been on the ascendance. The men’s World Cup final last summer reached a huge audience in the UK thanks to it being shown on terrestrial TV, allowing the masses to revel in the excitement (or not look!) of the last few balls being bowled and runs being scored! England won by the tiniest of margins, Ben Stokes being the hero of the day. Cricket was no longer back page news; it was hitting the headlines and excitingly, more children were saying that they wanted to have a go. The women's World Cup, earlier this year in Australia, filled stadiums with enthusiastic fans and was watched eagerly in our household. Such a shame rain knocked England out in the semi final.
The charity Chance to Shine has been introducing cricket to state schools, and even the streets, for years. Thanks to Chance to Shine, 15,000 schools have benefited from its network of county cricketing boards and a huge team of volunteers whilst 179 urban projects have been involved in the street cricket scheme; combined 4 million children have had the opportunity to swing a cricket bat, field the boundary or even take their first wicket – an amazing achievement!
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has done its bit too. The ECB is eager to capitalise on the success of the adult teams and to inspire future Ben Stokes and Heather Knights. This year they were planning on launching a Dynamos programme for children aged 8-11 which follows on from All Stars aimed at younger children. All Stars has had impressive numbers participating with an almost 100% increase in numbers since it began four years ago; the ECB is aiming for 35,000 children to be involved in Dynamos.
As a mother of a girl and harking back to my own (embarrassing!) times at the crease, I’ve been particularly interested in following the progress of girls’ cricket in the UK. Back in 2015 it was reported that cricket was the fastest growing sport for girls and the success of the women’s team has helped to accelerate its appeal. The ECB is recognising this in its ‘Inspiring Generations’ five-year strategy as it pledged to invest £20 million in the female game over the next two years.
Schools are starting to drop rounders for girls and they are becoming involved in cricket, often playing alongside boys in mixed teams . In my own experience, I’ve seen the girls’ game change: when my son started playing, there might have been the odd girl involved whereas now girls’ teams are emerging across our local area, and at Kent county level, the appetite to play is such that there is a development squad as well as a main squad for some age-groups.
Momentum was building...
And now onto my involvement with girls cricket in my local area. Before Covid 19 changed how we live our lives, I had been working with our local club on a really exciting initiative. We had planned on running ten weeks of free coaching for girls in years 5 through to 8 at Tonbridge Cricket Club, Kent with the long-term aim being to establish girls’ cricket teams! It’s been a long time in the planning so we are so disappointed that this will not start in May as we hoped.......but it will happen at some point and it will be a success! We are committed to introducing as many girls as possible to the wonderful game that is cricket when it is safe to do so. If this is of interest please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will keep you updated and will let you know when the free girls coaching will start.
In the meantime if you are interested in playing cricket in your garden here are some links to some of our best selling cricket products: