On Thursday, we marked what I hope is a new era in Spartan Sport – girls Cricket. The State T20 Cup Challenge is a State-wide knockout competition and based upon my aggressively enthusiastic recruitment style, Somerset was able to form their first girls Cricket side.
To clarify, Somerset has had girls Cricket in the past – but it was a condescendingly watered down affair, played with soft balls and giggles. The gender assumptions behind this travesty has long rankled – those who think that girl sportspeople are somehow delicate flowers who need to be protected have never seen, for example, Katrina Howard take a cricket ball in the throat and still have the presence of mind to still take the catch. [n.b. Ritcho has informed me that there was a one-off side in the past, but I have not been able to verify this through archives]
The 11 girls in the squad were a pleasure to coach. They were unflaggingly energetic and enthusiastic. They turned up for non-compulsory training and were prepared to work on their game. They were happy to take suggestions and be coached by the hoary relic whose cricketing skill reached its acme in Gymea Bay B3s somewhere in the 90s.
We hosted St Stephen's College on Wyangan, where our beloved groundsman Pete did his best to prepare a pitch in the middle of Rugby season. Thanks must go to him and to Roger for prioritising this job, as it gave the girls from both teams a thrill to play on turf and to see the Wyangan electronic scoreboard feature a girl’s cricket team for the first time.
Thanks must also go to our Headmaster who gave up some time in his busy schedule to support the girls. I would expect no less, as all know how committed he is to see women’s sport take its rightful position.
Our other two supporters must also be mentioned. Ms Green came down to watch an over or two (thanks to the high representation of Starkey girls perhaps) and Janine Ardill-Walker, whose association with Somerset Cricket has not ended with her son Rory, who skippered the First XI in 2015.
Performances from the girls were shared almost equally on the morning, with Emma McTaggart bagging two wickets, and with Holly Clements and Alex Halloran bowling well and giving away little. Ashleigh Childs seems to be a born wicket-keeper, and I suggest that she starts taking glucosamine now if my knees are any indication (note that I am not a doctor – this is not to be taken as medical advice). Alex Grgic could not be dismissed in an innings in which our batters struggled against some St Stephens bowlers who did have some cricket experience.
Despite the best efforts of our girls, we could not get over the St Stephens team. I must mention that our girls had zero cricketing experience going into the match and just four training sessions under their belts. Aside from watching with humour as they tried putting on unfamiliar equipment, I have to marvel at the progress they have made in this short time. They made me proud, to be honest.
I hope that this is the first step in a long tradition of women’s Cricket at the College, and should my fantasy of becoming Australia’s oldest poet laureate come to fruition, being part of this journey will still be something I will treasure.