There are some things that just go together.
Take vegemite and toast. Or shoes and socks. Or Kermit and Miss Piggy.
Something else that just goes together is summer and cricket.
While the international season has well and truly started, in seven days’ time WBBL02 begins and the Sydney Thunder have a date with the Melbourne Stars at 6.15pm at North Sydney Oval. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you there.
It’s been an exceptional year for women’s cricket. When you remember that just a year ago we were all anticipating WBBL01, it’s worth taking a look back and seeing what’s happened:
· WBBL01 surpassed all expectations, with television ratings so impressive that Channel 10 decided to move coverage of some games from its secondary to its primary channel;
· the Sydney Thunder made history when they won their WBBL Final against the Sydney Sixers and became the inaugural WBBL champions;
· the Southern Stars became the best paid women’s sports team in Australia when Cricket Australia announced significant pay increases, seeing the payment pool increasing from $2.36 to $4.23;
· the Southern Stars, became ICC World Champions; and
· the NSW Breakers became the first professional team in domestic women’s sport, thanks to the success of Lendlease.
It’s worth stopping and reflecting on how far we came this year whilst remembering how much work is still to be done. For me, another highlight has been seeing names like Meg Lanning, Alex Blackwell, Lauren Cheatle, Kristen Beams and Ellyse Perry becoming household names. Little girls can now grow up knowing that pursuing a career in cricket does not have to be a dream, it can be a reality.
With WBBL02 only 5 days away, I thought it would be worth sharing my top 7 reasons why I’m excited about the upcoming competition:
· Cricket Australia and Facebook have announced a deal which means that every single game in the WBBL will be streamed or (with the help of Channel 10) televised. This means you don’t have any excuse for missing a single ball this summer and will mean that so many more female cricketers will be introduced to audiences in Australia and across the world;
· after the Board of Control for Cricket in India approved its female players participating in foreign leagues earlier this year, Harmanpreet Kaur will become the first Indian player to join a BBL club. I’ve saved the best news for last though – she will be playing for the Sydney Thunder. Harmanpreet is a genuine star of the game and has played 118 times for India across all cricketing formats;
· scheduling is something which Cricket Australia really thought about when it came to this season. The reality for so many female athletes is that they honour their playing commitments whilst juggling a job and family commitments. This WBBL season games are clustered mainly around weekends – which means it will be easier for all of us to go watch and for the participants to maintain any other commitments they may have;
· while the WBBL is an exciting competition in its own right, cricket fans will also be treated to 14 double headers across the summer. The Big Bash is the best value family entertainment you’ll get all summer – so make sure you head out to a double header and watch 2 games for the price of 1. You may even get the chance to meet your favourite female cricketer;
· women’s sport is on the rise and is worth getting excited about. When you think about the success of our female Olympians and Paralympians this year (think Maddison Elliot, the Aussie 7’s team and Chloe Esposito), the AFL’s announcement about its new women’s competition in 2017 or the announcement by the Cronulla Sharks that they will have their own NRL 9’s team next year, there’s no doubt that once people get a taste of women’s sport, they are hooked. The WBBL features some of the most talented female cricketers on the planet so get behind them and behind women’s sport.
· the Sydney Thunder have a very real chance of going back to back. So many stars of WBBL01 have returned like Alex Blackwell, Lauren Cheatle and Stefanie Taylor and we have also re-signed Lauren Cheatle, Rene Farrell, Erin Osborne, Naomi Stalenberg and Nicola Carey. Everything is coming up Sydney Thunder at the moment; and
· so many of our favourites will be back in action over the summer. Take Ellyse Perry who will be playing for the Sydney Sixers, Charlotte Edwards who will now be playing for the Adelaide Strikers, our very own Alex Blackwell, Holly Ferling who will play for the Brisbane Heat or Meg Lanning who will be playing for the Melbourne Stars. Combine that with some up and comers like Maisy Gibson for the Sydney Thunder (I’m a bit crazy for Maisy), Alice Springs who will play for the Adelaide Strikers and Ashleigh Gardner for the Sydney Sixers and we are in for a very entertaining summer.
WBBL01 was a spectacular competition, but it’s up to all of us to make WBBL02 even more successful. So make sure you get behind your favourite team and head out to plenty of games. I want to see cricket continue to be a leader when it comes to female participation in sport.
Ladies who Legspin xxx