It is not true that the English invented cricket as a way of making all other human endeavours look interesting and lively; that was merely an unintended side effect. I don’t wish to denigrate a sport that is enjoyed by millions, some of them awake and facing the right way, but it is an odd game.
-Bill Bryson, Down Under (2000)
To an outsider, cricket looks a bit funny. I mean, it is a super long game, seemingly slow paced and the players throwing the ball do a whole lot of strange stuff with their arms. Like a lot of people growing up in a mostly non-cricket playing country, I had formed my opinions of the game on the back of the very few clips I had seen on TV and the many jokes I had heard made by people who probably had about the same exposure to the sport as I did. Then I married an Aussie. You would have thought that would be my entry into the world of cricket fandom but, since he did not grow up playing cricket either, his opinion of the sport was while less deprecative, hardly enthusiastic. I mean, Azerbaijan might have Eurovision, but that is about as Aussie as they get.
As you can imagine, none of this was very helpful when our daughter fell in love with the game. Her first season, I focused my efforts on getting her to the games and bought her a membership to her favourite BBL team. I learned a small bit of cricket terminology, got good at cutting up fruit for tea breaks, and attempted to keep her whites clean. I thought I had this cricket mom thing in the bag, but I still could not figure out why she was staying up way past
my her bedtime to watch these games on TV.
As her season progressed, I was not learning a lot about the game, but something else was becoming clear. If my talented and passionate daughter was to have any chance of playing cricket long term, I was going to have to step up and help out. This sport is still a boy’s domain (at least at the junior levels) and the path for girls needs some dedicated maintenance if the players want to find their way to the top. I did not want to become a parking lot parent and I did not want my daughter to give up doing what she loved because she could not see a way to progress. The little moments matter, but simply cutting up fruit this year was not going to be enough. I need to learn all about what makes this a complicated and beautiful (albeit still bloody long) game and I am also going to need to start shoving some doors wide open.
This past weekend I had the brilliant opportunity to head up to Bupa’s National Cricket Centre and spend time with some of Australia’s top cricketers. Something Holly Ferling said while we were discussing the pathway for girls to rise up the ladder to professional cricket was that “If they can’t see it, they can’t be it.” I feel like we are off to a good start, but let’s keep showing our girls the path. Boys can’t miss theirs.
Thanks for sticking around this summer with The Unlikely Cricket Mom series here on the blog; I can’t wait to share what we created while I was up in Brisbane, but one thing that I can talk about right now is that the spirit of cricket is what shines through brighter than any skills. These women are undoubtedly elite athletes, but they are also smart, kind and funny.
They might call it a “gentleman’s sport”, but I can tell you that it takes a hell of a woman to play cricket.