My favourite story this week (featuring Alex Blackwell)

Congratulations Sydney – this week you put on quite a show.

21, 798 people were at Spotless Stadium on Tuesday night to watch the Sydney Thunder take on the Sydney Sixers in the opening match of BBL06. Everywhere I looked there were happy boys and girls, enjoying being outdoors and enjoying sport with their families.

Even the end result didn’t dampen Thunder spirits with hundreds of kids waiting after the game and hanging over the barrier waiting to meet their favourite Thunder heroes.Pat Cummins was very popular and so was Gurinder Sandhu. The commitment of the players to their young fans is one of my favourite parts about the Big Bash. No matter how late matches finish, the players stand with a smile, meeting the newest generation of cricket converts. Shout-out to Stephen O’Keefe from the Sydney Sixers who also hung around after the game signing bats and taking selfies. It was a joy to see.

From a pure cricket perspective, Tuesday night was not exactly the way the Thunder wanted to start their BBL06 campaign. In the end, the Thunder lost by nine wickets to our biggest rivals, the Sydney Sixers.

The Thunder managed a respectable 8/159, despite a dramatic batting collapse in the middle order.A special mention to Ryan Gibson and Eoin Morgan, who really contributed to that respectable score, forming a 55 run partnership.

But, despite these stand out performances, last night was the Moises Henriques show. He scored 76 from 41 balls last night and was, deservedly named man of the match (who knows what would have happened had he been caught first ball…).

I’m not worried though – the Thunder still have plenty of time to bounce back and I am expecting that bounce back on Thursday night against the Renegades.

There was one more story I wanted to share with you this week though and surprisingly, it has nothing to do with what happened on the field.

Last weekend at Sydney Thunder Fan Day I was chatting to one of my favourite players, Alex Blackwell. You will all know Alex as captain of the Thunder’s WBBL team. She is a talented cricket, a fearless advocate for women in sport and someone that has fearlessly pursued her passion to represent Australia at the highest level in cricket.You may have also seen her featured as a ‘Rebel Woman’ recently, explaining the difficult choice she had to make between a medical career and a career pursuing cricket professionally. You can watch that video here.

While we were chatting, a 5 year old boy approached Alex to say hello.This 5 year old boy had a very big smile on his face and was very excited to meet Alex. He asked for her autograph, told her how much he enjoyed watching her play in WBBL01, wished her luck for the Thunder WBBL’s next game on Boxing Day (and told her to pass her good luck message onto the rest of the team). He told Alex that he was very excited about being there to watch as well. The little boy then skipped away, but 20 seconds later had returned to wrap his arms around Alex’s legs in a big hug and to wish her a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

I stood back and watched this entire exchange and realised, that so often when I talk about the WBBL, I focus on the impact that it is having on young girls. The WBBL gives the next generation of female cricketers the opportunity to dream big and it reminds them that a career in professional cricket is available to them if they want it.

So often we forget that the WBBL is also impacting the next generation of young men. We still live in a world which is marked by gender inequality. Whilst we have come a long way,women remain underrepresented in almost every facet of public life – in the political arena, on boards and as executives of our largest and most significant companies. The statistics in relation to domestic and family violence are staggering, on average, women will end their careers with less superannuation than their male counterparts and a gender pay gap still exists.

You cannot be what you cannot see and we should not underestimate the power of small moments like this little boy meeting one of his sporting heroes (who just happened to be a woman). My hope is that this little boy will grow up believing that the women in his life can do whatever the men do and that he will be champion for women being given the opportunity to pursue their passions, whether they be on the cricket pitch, the AFL field or the footy field.


Ladies who Legspin xxx

P.S. For anyone interested, I did manage to meet Maisy Gibson last weekend too (and it was magic).