A Ramble on Women's Cricket
[February 1] The month has opened as we have received some of the saddest news I have heard for some time - the death of Bill Frindall, the 'Bearded Wonder', scorer and statistician. Not only had he become a by-word for the precision needed in such a discipline, but his wry sense of humour on 'Test Match Special' made him an invaluable member of the commentary team. Those outside the UK will probably not realise the affection in which the commentary of 'TMS' is held in this country. In recent times I have heard extracts from recordings of 'TMS' on other BBC output, even on "Pick of the Week", a short programme where an invited presenter selects their favorite snippets from the BBC. Many over here used to turn down the sound on the TV commentary and watch while listening to TMS on its Long Wave slot. That has become more difficult with the advent of 'digital' as sound and pictures can become wildly out of synch. So delayed are some signals you wonder if the description 'live' is not a breach of the 'Sale of Goods Act' for mis-description. It's a cliché to say that Bill will be sorely missed but, like a lot of clichés, it has become so precisely because it states the case so clearly.
2009 holds promise. Not only have we two World Cups to look forward to, one in that strange new form of the game T20, but we have two international sides joining the County Championship - Ireland and The Netherlands. If you have had sufficient time on your hands in recent years that the boredom threshold of reading these notes hasn't already put you to sleep, you'll know that I have banged on about us playing some of the other sides in the world apart from just the others in what you might call "the big four". I still live in hope we may see Sri Lanka here one day, and of course, sadly, we managed to find English weather to greet the West Indies last year. Also Ireland played against the England Academy side. Some of my hopes may be coming to pass.
Placing Ireland and The Netherlands in the Counties does give them time to play as a team that they have not had very frequently before, and, as they climb the divisions, and I'm sure they will, then hopefully the sport will become more popular in their own countries.
One other good piece of news is that Pakistan are expected in the UK this summer and will play an England Development XI on June 1, 2 and 3. I expect this to be something of a test for them, but who knows?
If, like me, you hunt the TV schedules for cricket to watch during the winter, then you'll have had the pleasure of seeing some of the men's game between Australia and South Africa. In particular I have to mention Jean-Paul Duminy who seems to me the most natural talent to appear in the game in many years. Were his performances just a few flashes in the pan? I have to hope not as he is a real pleasure to watch.
My preparations are underway for the trip to Sydney and the World Cup. Never having visited this part of the globe before I am looking forward to experiencing a 'new' country. What I am not looking forward to is the 23 hours in a plane - the idea of one seat and little opportunity to move about for that time fills me with dread.
As for the competition - well it will be interesting to see how well the ICC manage it. They've organised World Cups before - for the men of course - but what effort has been placed behind this competition? Hopefully as much as they would with the men... The last women's World Cup was the swansong of the IWCC, and from my viewpoint, as a photographer, they could not have been more helpful. I have no reason to believe it will not be the same this time around.
In the run up to the Cup there will be a number of international matches. You may be interested to know that although they may be between top sides they will not be official one-day internationals and the stats will not count in players' records. I imagine, although I don't know, that the reason is that players will 'roll on and roll off' as it were i.e. as many as 14 players may take part. Obviously matches like these cannot be 'official' ODIs.
The Rosebowl and some of the matches in the current Bangladesh series will, of course, be official and count towards stats and records.
Has anyone yet seen the TV schedules for the UK? I haven't been able to discover as yet what I may be able to record while I am away. If you have, do let me know.
[February 6] Well I have experienced for the first time (second hand via the TV of course) the new referral system. I can't say I'm mad about it in view of the inordinate length of time it seems to take to get a result. And it doesn't always coincide with my judgment on the outcome either which I find more surprising. I suspect the guidelines for the third umpire are not quite as clear cut as the commentary may be indicating. Fortunately the upcoming World Cup will not be plagued by this (at least as far as I know!) and with the poor TV coverage of the women's game generally it doesn't look imminent any where around the world.
And while we are in the Awards season (BAFTAs, Oscars and all that), the England team, and one member of that squad, Holly Colvin, have been nominated in the Sunday Times "Sportswomen of the Year Awards". Holly was nominated in 2005 and I was amused to be (apparently) the only source of a picture of her in action available to the paper. I'm not expecting a call this time as there must be hundreds in Getty's locker by now. Good luck to the team and to Holly - if either are successful it'll be a boost for the sport. However, judging by the almost 100 page booklet released in 2005 the competition will be fierce.
Well, we now know the England Team won the Team Award.
It was quite a summer last year and what with a run of fourteen unbeaten games and a record partnership and bowling stats at Lord's, one to remember. It's encouraging to see the sport recognised in this way.