By Nicola Waterworth
By the time I pen this, my first ‘match report’ for a ‘Show Up’, the England women have regained the Ashes with overwhelming style and panache. The one-day and twenty20 matches subsequent to this one at Lords garnered widespread media coverage. No doubt aided by the thrills and spills the women offered along the way, but potentially also the decision to play Twenty20 games alongside the men’s. This certainly continues the debate about whether women’s participation at the national and international level is helped or hindered by being undertaken at the same time as the men’s equivalent. The organisers of the women’s cycling Tour of Britain for 2014, for instance, are clear that this event should stand alone and not risk being in the shadow of the men’s race.
As we set out for this, the first of the One Day Internationals, it did not feel overwhelmingly like the women’s competition had entered the nation’s consciousness; there was a dearth of coverage to the point where it felt vaguely as if we were off to some secret happening, not dissimilar to a 90s rave event. It is at this point that I have to fess up two points about my trip to Lords; firstly, while I had never watched women’s cricket my companion had never watched any cricket before. But more importantly, he was the architect behind the whole plan – the one who had gone to the effort to specifically find a women’s sporting event and organised the whole affair, I even outsourced the picnic making. So credit where it’s due my first ‘Show Up’ activity was not of my own making.
On our suitably laid back arrival, we found Australia at 66 for 2, playing to a decent 20% ish capacity, including a more than reasonable showing in the MCC pavilion. The crowd was fairly mixed demographically – clearly keen female cricketers, families looking to fill a day of the summer holidays and those who just wanted to watch cricket regardless of the gender of the players. A ticket price of £14 is very reasonable (certainly comparatively to the men’s game) it was a shame that potentially a lack of effort on the publicity front hindered the crowd size.
Having communicated a rundown of the score board and caught up with the basics of the PowerPlay rules (thank you wikipedia) we settled in for an enjoyable Australian innings in which they achieved a total of 203 before lunch. Fairly consistent batting by the Australians shifted into highly consistent bowling after lunch with England making fairly lacklustre progress in the face of this. However, Edwards provided a robust backing from the start, only going for 61 at well over halfway through the overs. By this point, firmly into the middle order, caution appeared to have been thrown to the wind in a bid to increase the run rate considerably in order to save the game. Knight in particular added some oompf but having fallen for 25 began a run of more quickly falling wickets (which you had to watch carefully for in the absence of the video playback, not sure why this was as the match was being live streamed). England did not in the end see out the overs being all done in the 47th, as a result of what Edwards referred to in the post match analysis as some “naive cricket”. We did not leave Lords foreseeing the blaze of victory for England that would secure the ashes. We did however, leave still trying to get our heads round the slightly complicated scoring system for the new format – with Australia now being 5 points to England’s 2.
All in all it was a really good day watching high quality sport and supporting the national side. On reflection, the spectator experience was much more relaxing than at men’s cricket internationals I have attended; hopefully this difference in atmosphere is something the game can maintain while building bigger and louder audiences.