The storied historical past and thrilling future for ladies’s cricket in south London

“The sport was taken on its deserves; we have been taken with no consideration as cricketers. I received the reply I wished to my questioning – Ladies’s Cricket has arrived.”

You would possibly presume this quote was taken from any variety of historic moments in Ladies’s Cricket in latest reminiscence.

Maybe when Charlotte Edwards captained England to World Cup glory in 2009? Or when Anya Shrubsole took the final Indian wicket to repeat the feat eight years later at Lords? Perhaps even in 2020, when over 86,000 attend the Ladies’s T20 World Cup remaining between Australia and India on the MCG?

Every time you’ll be improper. The quote, in actual fact, is from a guide entitled ‘Ladies’s Cricket’ by Marjorie Pollard.

The match in query was between Surrey Ladies’s Cricket Affiliation and the Australian Ladies with 10,000 folks reportedly in attendance.

The match came about in 1937 on Mitcham cricket inexperienced in South London.

For a membership like Mitcham Cricket Membership, whose information date again to the 18th century, it’s quite outstanding that probably the most notorious match to happen on their inexperienced was between two girls’s sides over 75 years in the past.

And it, due to this fact, will come as fairly a shock to additionally word that Mitcham performed their first girls’s cricket match simply this 12 months.

“It’s fairly an incredible factor however barely extraordinary {that a} membership with as lengthy a historical past as Mitcham by no means formulated itself into having its personal Ladies’s group till now,” Julia Gault, Mitcham Sapphires captain stated.

Gault has been ever-present at Mitcham Cricket Membership since her sons joined within the mid-noughties. From scorer to driving juniors, membership secretary, and coach – she’s carried out all of it.

However in 2018, after a surge of ladies becoming a member of after the World Cup success, she added one other job title to her cricketing CV – girls’s captain.

Regardless of coronavirus-related delays, the Sapphires finally made their aggressive debut in a softball match towards Croydon cricket membership in July this 12 months.

Wanting again on the historic occasion, she stated: “It was thrilling to be participating in one thing actually historic and it does convey numerous delight.”

While Mitcham’s girls’s cricket aspect could also be in his childhood, different golf equipment in south London can proudly boast a trailblazing historical past.

Simply 10 miles east, Twickenham Cricket Membership is one such membership. In the summertime, 9 former and present gamers have been awarded county caps by Middlesex and Surrey.

Sarai Knight, Twickenham CC’s girls’s captain stated. “A few of these folks actually have been pioneers for ladies’s cricket.

“You’re speaking about girls who have been having to play in skirts within the ’60s and ’70s when it actually wasn’t the carried out factor. They actually needed to overcome numerous boundaries to play cricket – the game they love.

“We’re very fortunate now we have such a powerful historical past and we attempt to honor that as a lot as we will by protecting going and inspiring grassroots cricket.”

Their legacy has continued with Twickenham CC seeing an enormous spike in feminine members after the coronavirus pandemic.

Knight stated: “We had a lot of gamers be part of us in the summertime of 2020 and 2021 which was completely unbelievable.

“Plenty of them have been girls who had performed at college who have been coming again to it for the primary time in over ten years. Others have been girls who had by no means performed it and thought ‘yeah I might like to provide it a go.’

“We simply rolled with it actually. We delight ourselves on being a welcoming setting for ladies and we work actually onerous to convey on board girls who have not received expertise to study new abilities and get that have of enjoying cricket.”

The duty now for each golf equipment is to make sure the momentum doesn’t stall however the early indicators are encouraging.

At Mitcham, the favored all-girls summer season camps aimed toward children are being continued subsequent season whereas Knight admitted that members of her Twickenham aspect are reserving winter nets off their very own again, such is their craving for cricketing motion within the low season.

Mitcham Sapphires’ first aggressive match towards Croydon Cricket Membership. Picture credit score: Mictham CC

Regardless of all of this, although, each captains are acutely conscious that lots nonetheless must be carried out to make girls’s cricket extra welcoming and to really harness its potential.

Mitcham captain Gault stated: “One of many points now we have is a really old school pavilion and due to this fact our services for ladies should not as subtle because the services we have got for males which is one thing we wish to elevate the cash to vary.

“Even simply doing easy stuff like ensuring we have got photos of feminine cricketers up within the pavilion and celebrating that as effectively is significant.”

And at Twickenham, Knight has felt vastly inspired by the steps the membership has made to make sure that girls really feel welcome.

“The membership do rather a lot for the ladies’s group. They need the ladies’s group to flourish however it’s ongoing progress and it takes numerous work to vary an setting that has traditionally been male.

“Any sport that has a background of being male-dominated will likely be daunting for ladies to come back and discover and I see that very a lot as my position as captain to make that accessible and make it clear that we stand for inclusion and equity.”

It is encouraging steps however sadly, not all of grassroots cricket has been as proactive in trying to change the attitudes of its members in the direction of feminine participation.

Each captains converse of enjoying matches on third-rate pitches and enduring overbearing male umpires final season and it is a mandatory reminder of the continuous work that must be carried out to fight sexism inside cricket.

This explicit difficulty, in a big half, is what led to the founding of Her Sport Too.

Initially specializing in soccer, the marketing campaign expanded its motion to cricket after being approached by Gloucestershire County Cricket Membership.

Co-founder Lucy Ford stated: “’Our principal goal on each indicators is to create that protected house for feminine followers to observe video games in stadiums but additionally to take part at grassroots as effectively.”

Their campaigns on social media, alongside partnerships with skilled and grassroots golf equipment, have allowed the motion to unfold its attain and improve visibility surrounding such points.

However there may be nonetheless lots to work to do, which Ford acknowledges.

She stated: “The county and grassroots partnerships have all been actually constructive to date however you will need to proceed [our work] as a result of sexist attitudes aren’t going to vary in a single day.

“We wish to proceed to work till there is not this minority making these feedback and making girls really feel like they can not watch or play the game due to their gender.

“It might be superb for a younger woman in ten, twenty years to be in sport, in no matter capability, as a result of they have been introduced up in a world the place sport is for them they usually might take part.”

Marjorie Pollard might have jumped the gun when she declared girls’s cricket “had arrived” in 1937. However, the fervour that’s evident inside South London’s girls’s cricket group ought to be sure that the game can thrive within the years to come back.

Featured picture credit score: Mitcham CC

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