Friday, 31 May 2013

Women's Cricket Might Be Better-Off Without SKY

There is an interesting article over on Cricinfo by Raf Nicholson about professionalism and pay in women's cricket.

But what I wanted to pick-up on was a comment by Cyril Knight:
Attendance and media coverage are the primary concerns of sponsors. The women's game has neither. If it stood alone, in England, to find it's own TV deal and own sponsorship then all the players would be amateurs overnight.
I see where Mr Knight is coming from, but I'm not sure it is actually the case!

Right now, women's cricket in England might actually be better off without being tied into the (men's) SKY TV deal.

They could negotiate their own deal with the BBC, which would obviously not be huge; but how much are the women really getting from the current deal? (Answers on a (very small!) postcard!)

Plus, being on free-to-air TV would give the team a massive injection of Red-Bull-strength media-exposure, which would increase attendances and have the sponsors queuing up!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Women's County Championship: Berkshire v. Yorkshire

On another windy day in Wokingham, it was Yorkshire who were blown away - coming back down to earth with a bump after their surprise victory over Sussex the day before.

Batting first, Berkshire set up an impressive total of 216, thanks mainly to a century from Heather Knight.

Knowing they needed to score quickly, Yorkshire set off at a rate of knots; but wickets began to tumble and they soon found themselves in deep trouble at 52/7.

Yorkshire recovered slightly, taking drinks after 25 overs at 97/7; but they were finished off quite soon after, bowled out for 108; giving Berkshire the win by over 100 runs.

Women's County Championship: Berkshire v. Essex

The sun might have been shining in Wokingham for Berkshire's first game of the weekend; but a severe wind-chill factor made for an uncomfortable afternoon for the home team in more ways than one.

Both sides would have gone into this fixture hoping for a win; and with Essex batting, it was Berkshire who made the better start, with the Eagles pegged back initially to under two-an-over.

The turning point was an agricultural, but mightily useful, half-century from Lauren Onojaife which took Essex to a final total of 175.

Berkshire started briskly in reply, but after Heather Knight got marooned in the mid-20s, the runs dried-up for a period; and then the wickets began to fall. The game finished with Berkshire all-out, some thirty-odd runs short of their target.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Why WOMEN'S Cricket?

Since I started writing this blog, I've been asked a few times: why women's cricket? As opposed to men's cricket... or just cricket in general?

In order to understand the answer, you have to realize that this isn't really a women's cricket blog - if you want one of them, Martin Davies or Don Miles are very thorough - this blog is much more narrowly focused on English Women's cricket and specifically on the England team.

I've always been a very partisan sports fan: I'll watch football when Arsenal are on, but otherwise I'll largely ignore it; and I don't watch the IPL, because I don't even have 'a team'.

In cricket, England were always my team: a symptom of long summer holidays home from boarding school, with nothing much to do but turn on The Test. (Often, all too infuriatingly, interrupted at a crucial moment by horse racing!)

So the answer to why women's cricket?

It is very simple: I fell in love with the team!

And no - not that sort of in love! (I don't "do" fan-crushes.)

To be honest, it is more of an addiction: I started following the team in the media and (infrequently) on TV... then going to the odd game... and before I knew it, I was obsessively poring over the (increasingly fantastic) coverage on Cricinfo.

So now, here I am:

My name is Syd, and I'm addicted to eleven women in blue* :)

* And sometimes white!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Uncomfortable Truth For Women's Cricket In The ECB's Strategic Review

My recent irreverent post about the ECB's strategic review made at least one person laugh; but the humor hides a serious and somewhat uncomfortable truth: women's cricket in England is being run by an organization for whom women's cricket is a pretty low priority.

While I understand (and believe it or not appreciate) the benefits that have accrued to women's cricket from coming under the auspices of the ICC, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that a price is being paid in England in terms of a lack of strategy for the women's game.

The recent announcements in Australia remind us that it doesn't have to be this way; but the actual details of the ECB's review aren't making me feel very optimistic.

A telling paragraph from the report [PDF] is this one:
[We will provide] increased employment opportunities/ grants in order that England Women’s cricketers can be dedicated to England preparation in the three months prior to the 2017 Women’s World Cup. [My emphasis.]
Compare and contrast this with the golden retainers (note - retainers - not "employment opportunities") handed to the Southern Stars four years prior to the 2017 World Cup.

The dice are starting to feel rather loaded against our girls... and the ECB don't seem to care.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

That ECB Strategic Plan In Full

Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Men's Cricket
Women's Cricket

Golden Stars

The women's cricket world has been turned upside-down this morning with the announcement of HUGE pay rises for the Australian women's team - the Southern Stars.

According to The Australian:
The top player retainer increases from $15,000 to $52,000 and the minimum retainer increases from $5000 to $25,000.

With tour payments also increasing from $100 to $250 per day - and 85 tour days within the next year - the country's top female cricketers can earn $70,000 to $80,000 in the next 12 months.
$80,000 = £50,000 - more or less - so that's a lot more than the top England players are earning; and (as far as I can see???) these are pure cricket contracts.

The response from the England players so far has been diplomatic - Dani Wyatt tweeted that it was "great news for women's cricket" - but she (and the rest) wouldn't be human if they didn't find themselves going a little green-in-the-eye this morning.

And as for the ECB? If they ever want to win-back that No. 1 ranking, they've got some serious thinking to do: the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Women's County Championship: Berkshire v. Kent

Berkshire's first home game of the 2013 season saw them take on Kent at Wokingham CC.

On a slightly chilly, overcast morning, Kent won the toss and chose to bowl.

During an attritional opening 10 overs just one wicket fell, but with Berkshire scoring at less than 2-an-over. As the game progressed though, Kent began to make inroads into Berkshire's young batting line-up, eventually bowling the home team out for just 62.

Despite losing Edwards (comparatively) early-on for 15, Kent never looked in any trouble; and made the runs with more than 20 overs to spare - the 6-wicket margin of victory, if anything, flattering Berkshire.

Kent are the reigning champions, and on this performance you'd be a fool to bet against them retaining their title in 2013.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

First Blood in The Women's Ashes... To The Progressives

 The first battle in this summer's Women's Ashes has taken place, not between England and Australia, but between the Traditionalists and the Progressives - members of which were passionately represented on either side, debating the question: One Series Or Three?

The announcement this week that the series would be defined across all 3 formats - Test, ODIs and T20s - represents a victory for the Progressives; who argued that the value of the 'A' word in marketing the ODIs and T20s outweighed the Traditionalists' contention that The Ashes means Test Cricket, and should not be sullied by association with the shorter formats.

The Traditionalists did win a minor concession, with the points system heavily weighted in favour of the Test - a decision which I think Martin Davies is right to question; leaving open the possibility as it does that the series could be all over with a whopping four games still to play, which is a lot of dead-rubber if that's the way it pans-out.

Overall, though, I think this is a good decision. The reality is that women's Test cricket is simply not commercially viable - the match at teeny-tiny Wormsley is apparently nothing like sold-out at time of writing - and it therefore makes sense to add additional impetus to the short-format games by bringing them under the Ashes banner.

Now... bring on the Aussies and let the real battle commence. (We've got our tickets for Day One! Have you? If not... the link is here!)

Brunt & Prior: The Hardest Working Cricketers in Un-Showy-Business

There is something very appropriate about Katherine Brunt picking up the England Cricketer of the Year award alongside Matt Prior.

Neither are natural athletes; but both are the epitome of unfussy cricketers who have supplemented a dram of talent with a bottle of bloody-minded hard work to reach the top of their games and (just as importantly) stay there!

Katherine in particular has battled her demons along the way - leading to her being told early in her career that she would never make it. But she has come out the other side to be the spearhead of the team for EIGHT years now - playing for England more than 100 times, taking over 150 wickets along the way.

Together with Anya Shrubsole, Charlotte Edwards and Holly Colvin, she held England together during the recent World Cup campaign - which I think Cricinfo was a little unfair to term "disastrous", by the way!

Off the field, Brunt (again like Prior) is a bit more of a private person. In fact, I realised last night that she is one of the few mainstay members of the team whose voice I can't recall. I think the only time I've heard her say anything at all was during a match against the West Indies when she was hit for six by Diandra Dottin - one word was clearly audible from the boundary! (But as this is a family blog... I'll leave it to your imagination what it was!)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sri Lankans Paid Peanuts

When I looked recently at the remunerations paid to England's leading women cricketers by Chance To Shine, the organization which employes them as cricketers/ ambassadors/ coaches, I commented that the salaries, whilst not huge, were "not peanuts".

Interestingly enough, "peanuts" is exactly what the Sri Lanka cricket board are accused of paying their leading women by the Sunday Island:
Sri Lanka Cricket has awarded country’s women cricketers’ annual contracts, but their remuneration is peanuts compared to their millionaire male counterparts.
Here are the details:

The leading (Category A) women are to be paid R50,000 (R = Sri Lanka Rupees) per month - that's about £250. Of course, Sri Lanka is a third world country, so a direct comparison with UK wages is clearly unfair; but nevertheless, R50,000 is still some way short of the average monthly salary in Sri Lanka of about R60,000; and that's the leading women don't forget - the more junior members of the team are on less than half that!

So... peanuts? Yes - I think in this case the Sunday Island might have a point!