Women’s World Cup: From diverse backgrounds, with one goal in mind | locust

Women's World Cup: From diverse backgrounds, with one goal in mind |  locust

The Women’s Cricket World Cup, which kicks off on Friday, represents a chance to celebrate another chapter in women’s cricket history and women’s cricket stories. A colleague of mine, who has been playing cricket for over a decade but is working on her first women’s event, is amazed at the stories that emerge at the start of cricket. So let me introduce you to some of the stories I encountered here in New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup.

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Women’s cricket is a richer sport than men’s cricket. Not in the way you think. Not in terms of dollars, but dreams. Not in terms of income, not yet. But in real stories. Professionalism in women’s cricket is sweeping some countries and creeping into others. And so most players have a life outside of cricket. Stories of who they were before becoming cricketers.

New Zealander Frances Mackay is a librarian who reads three books a month while bowling alongside Jess Kerr, a teacher with an inswinger villain. Aussie Rachel Haynes creates PowerPoint presentations and vision papers for her team, leveraging her MBA. Afy Fletcher, originally from the West Indies, left behind her eight-month-old son to come and compete in the World Cup. Australian Megan Schutt brought her seven-month-old daughter with her. There is an almost medical student whose cover discs cross the fields like scalpels. There’s an engineer with a shiny new ball in his hand. There’s an ambidextrous player who spins the ball with one hand and does art with the other.

Then there are the international doubles, those show-offs. Sophie Devine (hockey) and Ellyse Perry (football) we heard about. But let’s also celebrate Cherry Ann Fraser, who played volleyball for Guyana, and Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews who won medals throwing javelins. Do you remember Fletcher? As well as being the first West Indies player to be granted paid maternity leave, she also played football for Grenada.

In the New Zealand changing room, a baby learns stories old and new. One-year-old Grace, daughter of New Zealand players Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite, can see a flag signed by almost every woman who has played cricket for New Zealand, including her mothers. She grows up with new stories of what family and career can look like. Bangladesh have been around for almost 15 years, but they are playing their first ODI World Cup. The lot of senior player Salma Khatun never knew that there was a women’s cricket team in Bangladesh when they started the sport. She has a chance to change that history for the next generation.

India and Pakistan will start their tournament on Sunday with a story we’ve seen before: India’s strike against Pakistan’s fast bowling. But it is the first time in their history that Pakistan have a fast bowling combination that can threaten Indian batters, with emerging ICC player of the year Fatima Sana paired with Diana Baig. Will they be enough to give Pakistan their first-ever win over India in ODI? Will they put a twist on this story?

But this isn’t Westeros, where whoever has the best story wins the throne. It’s the Cricket World Cup, and cricket promises to break records. Statistician John Leathers writes in Women’s CricZone magazine: “The average 1st round win total (in the 2017-22 World Cup cycle) was 268.9, compared to 241.2 in the 2013-17 cycle. .” In a warm-up game, the favorites Australia scored 321. New Zealand chased him with 9 wickets in hand and nearly seven overs to spare. Can you see the writing on the wall?

It’s also the World Cup of stories, but let’s not make the mistake of romanticizing all those stories. Because they also talk about the apathy and slow growth of the game. The West Indies have not had inter-island cricket, their national tournament, since 2019. Bangladesh will play an ODI against four of the other seven teams in this tournament for the first time, reflecting the financial realities of bilateral women’s cricket for some commissions. Even for hosts New Zealand, the only team outside of England and Australia to have won the World Cup before, this is their first time competing in a fully professional ODI World Cup.

Shafali Verma having to pretend to be a boy to play a game in Rohtak makes for great television, but sad reality. Some stories are great. But some must go.