Mary’s Wonder Women: Cricket, netball and State of Origin

This article was first written for and published for The Roar.

My favourite thing that happened in women’s sport this week was watching history being made in India when the first ever IPL Women’s T20 challenge took place in Mumbai.

I have to be honest, I didn’t really care about the result because the Supernovas and the Trailblazers each featured some of my favourite members of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team, but it was the Supernovas (7-130) who beat the Trailblazers (6-129) by three wickets.

Mary’s Wonder Women: Summer is Coming

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

Winter may be fast approaching, but this week there have been plenty of exciting announcements made in the cricket space which have made me feel like summer is right around the corner.

Let’s head straight to India, where next week Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Megan Schutt and Beth Mooney will join a cast of international superstars in a one-off women’s Indian Premier League exhibition match.

Eight internationals, including these four Aussies, will join players from India to play in two XIs captained by Indian players Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana.

You can still be proud of the Australian cricket team

This article was first written and published for The Roar.

‘I do not want to watch cricket anymore.’

‘How can anyone be proud of our Australian cricket team?’

‘This incident is emblematic of a culture that has been festering in the Australian cricket team for some time now’.

These are all statements that I have heard on repeated occasions this week.

Like most Australians (and cricket-lovers), I have had a deeply personal reaction to the ball-tampering scandal which has been at the forefront of worldwide sporting conversation this week.

New information is being uncovered every day, but what is clear is that there was a discussion between some members of the Australian men’s cricket team which resulted in Cameron Bancroft taking a sandpaper onto the field, using it to attempt to alter the ball and then putting the incriminating object down his pants. This footage was captured on camera and can only be described as one of the most amateur attempts at ball tampering I have ever seen.

I am heartbroken for so many reasons.

It’s saddening that no one had the courage to say ‘no, this is not a good idea’. I am disappointed that Bancroft, the 25-year-old man who had only played eight Tests for his country and was struggling to retain his position, was not in a place where he felt like he had another option.

I’m also wondering how people within that team felt like they were under so much pressure to win, that they would resort to crossing the line.

I am sad for Tim Paine who has been named 46th captain of the Australian men’s cricket team. This should be one of the greatest honours of Paine’s life, but will always be tainted by this ball-tampering scandal.

I am concerned about the mental health of the players involved, particularly for Steve Smith who in the space of a week has gone from a national treasure to social pariah.

Steve Smith

Sport is tremendously powerful and has the capacity to bring people together in a way that nothing else can. In Australia we have a deep connection to sport and to an idea that Australians play hard but fair.

Despite conduct from the Australian men’s cricket team which has danced very close to that line in recent years, this ball-tampering incident means that the word fair is no longer appropriate and the team has well and truly crossed the line. This stain on our international sporting reputation will take some time to repair.

There have been millions of tweets, comments and conversations about this scandal since it broke, but one thing which has been lost in the conversation is the recognition that Australia has two national teams – the men’s team and the women’s team.

This may seem like semantics to plenty of you, but during a time when women’s sport continues to go from strength to strength our language is supremely important, because language is still being used which makes our national women’s team invisible.

The nuance was lost in the Australian Sports Commission’s statement in relation to ‘events concerning the Australian cricket team’. Another person that weighed in was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who said ‘it seemed completely beyond belief that the Australian cricket team had been involved in cheating’.

While one national team has been accused of foul play and has its reputation under fire, another national team continues to perform admirably as I write this article on a tour of India. One national team has not been involved in foul play and does not deserve to be tainted by allegations surrounding the other.

Kristen Beams Meg Lanning celebrate

After successfully retaining the Ashes last summer, the Southern Stars have just defeated India in an ODI series whitewash. Highlights from the first game included a four-wicket haul from Jess Jonnassen and Nicole Bolton bringing up her fourth ODI hundred off 101 deliveries. Bolton finished that game unbeaten on 100 and found the boundary 12 times during her innings.

In the second game, Bolton made 84 and then a 96-run partnership between Beth Mooney (56) and Ellyse Perry (70 not out) helped steer the Southern Stars to a series win.

In the third game, Alyssa Healy managed her maiden international century and her 133 runs helped the visitors reach 7-332. This was the Southern Stars’ first ODI total above 300 since 2012 and their highest ever total against India.

The Southern Stars are now competing in a T20 tri-series with India and England and after a win over India and a loss to England, Megan Schutt became the first Australian woman to claim a T20 hat-trick in the third game against India, booked the team a place in the final on 31 March.

This is a team that has continued to play cricket admirably – with joy and in the spirit of the game and deserve to be celebrated.

So for those of you who are disenfranchised with cricket at the moment, I encourage you to remember why you love the game so much. And if you are having trouble remembering, perhaps the Australian women’s cricket team will help remind you.

Take pride in the efforts of Perry, who has not only represented Australia at a national level in cricket, but also in football. My favourite memory of Perry will always be the 213* which she scored in the first women’s day-night Test in the women’s Ashes last summer.

Ellyse Perry celebrates a century

Not only was it a magnificent performance with the bat, but I also always laugh when I remember her premature celebrations after she thought she had hit up a six to bring up that double ton, only for her to be denied by the ball bouncing within the boundary and prompting her to continue to bat, bringing up her double ton a couple of balls later.

Be excited by a future which includes women like Ashleigh Gardener, Sophie Molineaux, Tahlia McGrath and Amanda-Jade Wellington.

Laugh along with the antics of Megan Schutt, wonder about how good Alyssa Healy’s chirp behind the stumps is and be mesmerised by an exceptionally talented batter in Meg Lanning.

The Australian men’s cricket team may be hurting and the moment and the whole country is hurting with them. But do not forget that we have two national teams and that our women’s team is a team which still deserves your admiration and support.

Mary’s Wonder Women: Sport presses for progress

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, which is always an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come on our journey towards gender equality, but also a reminder of how much work we still have to do.

When it comes to sport, we have had plenty of moments to celebrate in the last 12 months.

Mary’s Wonder Women: Thanks Alex Blackwell

This story was first written and published by The Roar.

This Saturday when the NSW Breakers play the Western Fury in the WNCL Final, the Fury will feature in their first final in 18 years, while incredibly, the Breakers will be playing in their 22nd WNCL final, looking to claim their 19th title.

But for one special woman – Alex Blackwell – it will be her last appearance in Breakers Blue and the last time she captains her state after she announced her retirement from international and state cricket earlier this week after 16 years at an elite level.

The outpouring of emotion has been incredible to watch. It has come from people she has played with, people she has played against and people she has never met.

It’s time for standalone WBBL finals

This article was first written for and published for The Roar

When I left North Sydney Oval at the conclusion of WBBL03 opening weekend, I did so feeling buzzed for a massive summer of cricket ahead.

Following the conclusion of a successful Ashes series for the Australian Women’s Cricket team, the 8725 people that joined me through the gates during opening weekend had a real hunger for the women’s game and to cheer on players like Ellyse Perry, Elyse Villani, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachel Haynes, Kristen Beams and Alex Blackwell – all names which are popular and recognised in Australian sport.

Mary’s Wonder Women: Scorchers and Sixers to contest WBBL final

This article was first written for and published by The Roar.

On Sunday afternoon when the final of WBBL03 is played, it’ll be déjà vu for cricket fans, with the final being contested between the same two clubs as last year – the Sydney Sixers and the Perth Scorchers.

To book their place in the final, the Perth Scorchers beat the Sydney Thunder by 27 runs, largely due to the efforts of Nicole Bolton, Ellyse Villani and Emma King.

Strikers hold on for another thriller!

This article was written by Kristy Williams – a journalist with a love of Simpsons quotes.

The Strikers won another thriller yesterday, sneaking over the line against the Scorchers with a ball to spare at the beautiful Treager Park in Alice Springs.

In a shortened 16 over game the Scorchers could only manage 9-87, losing wickets consistently throughout their innings before a Suzie Bates masterclass guided the Strikers home despite a few small hiccups along the way.

WBBL Review: Strikers stump the Stars

This article was written by Kristy Williams, a journalist with a fondness for Simpsons quotes.

he Adelaide Strikers returned to the winners list today, with a gritty 22 run win over the seventh placed Melbourne Stars at Casey Fields.

While the momentum fluctuated throughout, it was the Strikers who owned the key moments through clear leadership and a hunger that permeated through the entire team.