Former England cricketer and winner of female cricketer of the year in 2010, Lydia Greenway, founded Girls Cricket Club to create more opportunities for girls and women to get involved in the sport.
The winner of two World Cups and five Ashes Series has now launched a competition with Girls Cricket Club to try and best the next best thing in girls cricket called The 1.
This new competition is taking place on September 5 in Nottingham where the best young female all-rounder will be crowned and awarded prizes including professional sponsorship from Kookaburra and their own kit.
Greenway explained in detail what the format of The 1 is, spoke about her own pathway into cricket and revealed what she thinks needs to happen to improve the women’s side of the game.
Why did you decide to create Girls Cricket Club?
It was a natural development from the work I was doing with Cricket For Girls which I set up back in 2016 and the aim of that really was to just try and get more girls playing in schools and in clubs and we ended up doing quite a lot of work with schools and training teachers. The focus really was on that and then with the Girls Cricket Club we thought it would be nice to differentiate between the players and the teachers.
So, really the Girls Cricket Club is a place for female cricketers to feel part of a community because it can sometimes be quite sporadic with girls’ cricket. You can find amazing girls cricket clubs where there’s something for everyone but then you can have pockets where girls playing cricket have to play in boys’ teams because there’s not enough girls to play cricket with to form their own team. It’s just really a place to create a nice experience for them and we also run teacher training courses.
What do you want to achieve with Girls Cricket Club?
It’s more just creating a community for girls’ cricketers to want to feel part of something wider than just their local cricket club or just playing in school. We do some online stuff so that can go beyond our shores, and we’ve had people from all over the world on the call. That’s the aim really, to create that community.
Do you think The Hundred has been a good way to introduce girls to cricket and make them want to get involved in the sport?
It’s been amazing, I’ve been working on a lot of the games, covering them, and you just sense that the atmosphere of them is very different to traditional cricket. Not saying that’s a good or bad thing but I think what it has done is it’s just opened the doors to more young girls and also to women – I think there’s a stat which breaks down the audiences and the crowds and it’s at its highest level in terms of females now watching the game and I think that comes from how the teams have been represented so they’re on the same platform with the men. It’s not just, here’s the men’s game, it’s going to be brilliant and by the way here’s the women – they’ve been marketed in the same way, so I think having teams that sit under the same brand – men and women – has been a real gamechanger and a by-product of that is girls realising: “Oh actually this is a sport for me.” I think that’s been one of the best things about The Hundred definitely.
Why did you choose cricket?
Mine was a really traditional route and probably the only route available for someone of my age back in the early 90s and it was because my dad played cricket. We would go up to my local cricket club and watch him play at the weekend and I had a young brother and an older sister, and we would just play amongst ourselves. From that I naturally got involved in games. If I hadn’t of had my dad who played cricket I probably wouldn’t have got involved in the sport. I think the massive change now is that girls can access cricket through a number of different routes, you don’t have to have a male relative anymore you can play it at school, you can go to the All-Stars and the Dynamos programmes by the ECB. There’s lots of different routes for entry available now which is obviously fantastic.
Was there a local girls team you could join when you were younger, or did you have to play in the boy’s team?
I played all my cricket growing up with boys but because there wasn’t a girl’s team anywhere near, we just set our own up, we just did it ourselves. I was nine and my sister was 14 and one of my best friends she was 10, so we just got together our school friends and we set up our own club. Our dads were the coaches, and we were a real made-up group of young girls to mums. My mum played; my godmother played just to make up the numbers really so that we could play with our own peers. But now the amount of girl’s cricket clubs around has increased hugely.
You’re hosting a competition at Girls Cricket Club called ‘The 1’, so could you explain what it is?
With Cricket For Girls and the Girls Cricket Club we wanted to create something that was just different so I think sometimes cricket can be long, it can be perceived to be boring and what we wanted to do was to take all the fun elements involved in cricket and put them into a combined-style competition. The fun elements of cricket I think are trying to whack the ball as far as you can, trying to throw the ball as far as you can and diving around in the field – so we’ve created 10 challenges which include cricketing skills and then the participants obviously do their best in every challenge, and they get a score from them. The aim really is for us to find the next best up-and-coming female all-rounder through this competition. That’s our aim really to find that, whether it’s an existing player or a player who’s only new to the game and is a real hidden gem. Just something a bit different.
Why did you want to set up a competition like this?
We just wanted to make something that was more engaging and as an individual you always want to showcase what you can do but you don’t always get that chance I suppose in a game setting. The prize that they get at the end is not just, oh well done here’s a t-shirt, but they get professional sponsorship from our partner Kookaburra so they get the full experience of what it’s like to be a professional player who gets all of their kit. They can go down to the workshop, pick the bat they want, they can watch it being made and we’ve got other prizes as well which I think will be just that bit better than perhaps what they’ve got in the past.
What do you think governing bodies ECB or ICC should be doing to get more girls involved in cricket and also bring professional women’s cricket into the spotlight more?
I think both the ECB and the ICC are recognising that girl’s cricket is one of the fastest growing sports, certainly in England and definitely in other parts of the world. To be able to recognise that and support that is obviously really important and here in England the England team have been professional for a few years now, but the game changer is when countries move to professionalism at the domestic level and that’s what we’re seeing in The Hundred. As much as possible if other countries can strive to have a really good domestic competition that’s in the public domain, so on TV and on the radio, then I think that will only help grow the sport. There’s been some really good things going on and absolutely there’s always more that can be done but I guess it’s recognising the improvements that are being made and continuing to build on them.
To find out more about ‘The 1’ and Girls Cricket Club visit: https://girlscricketclub.com/the-one/.
Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.
Tagged in Cricket