The England women’s cricket team is currently in Australia taking part in the World Cup – and doing rather well. This assembly looks at the history of cricket as a game in itself and as a game for women, and discusses some of the members of the women’s team.

Resources
You can find photographs of Charlotte Edwards at http://www.webbsoc.demon.co.uk/edwards.htm

Introduction
Today we’re going to be talking about the game of cricket. Who can tell me what happens in the game of cricket? [Take suggestions]

That’s right. The aim of the game is to throw a cricket ball to knock the stumps – the three wooden poles that stand up right – so that the bails – the bits of wood on the top – fall off. The person holding the bat – the batsman – has to ‘defend’ the stumps and bails from the person with the ball − the bowler.

There are 11 players on each team and two sets of wickets (this is what the stumps and bails together are called together). Two batters stand at each one of the wickets.

If the bowler can knock the bails off the stumps, the batsman is out. If the batsman can hit the ball, they run from back and forth from one set of wickets to the next, trying to get as many points or ‘runs’ as possible. At the end of the match, the team with the most runs wins.

Cricket is a very old game – at least 400 years old – and some people think it’s even older than that. It was probably invented in the south of England (in Kent and Sussex) by children. (1)

The game became very popular during Victorian times. One of the things the Victorians are famous for is travelling all over the world, and they took their interests, beliefs and language with them. They took cricket, too, and it is now a national sport in a number of countries including: India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and, of course, England.

But it’s not just a game for boys and men. Lots of girls and women enjoy playing cricket, too. And they’ve done so for rather longer than you might expect.

In 1745 a cricket match between the Hambledon maids and the Bramley maids took place. They didn’t have uniforms but the Bramley girls wore blue ribbons in their hair and their opponents wore red ribbons.

‘The Bramley girls got 119 notches and the Hambledon girls 127. There was of bothe [sic] sexes the greatest number that ever was seen on such an occasion. The girls bowled, batted, ran and catches as well as most men could do in that game.’ (2)

Today lots of girls and women play cricket. At this moment, the England Women’s Cricket Team are playing for the World Cup in Australia – and they’re doing very well.

Charlotte’s story
The Captain of the women’s team is Charlotte Edwards. It’s not always easy being a girl playing a sport that most people think is just for boys. In fact, Charlotte had to play in the local boy’s team in Cambridgeshire when she was 13.

She first played for the England team when she was just 16 – that’s a pretty young age to be playing for your country, but Charlotte took it in her stride and scored lots of runs. And even though she’s only 29 now, she’s the captain of a team that looks like it could win the World Cup!

The day before her 18th birthday, she scored a then-record score of 173 ‘not out’ in a World Cup match.

Then when she was 22 she was injured whilst playing hockey: it’s something that all serious athletes fear, an injury that will keep them from the sport they love. Unfortunately it meant Charlotte missed the whole 2001 cricket season, but when she recovered she came back even more determined to take her team to the top. (3)

Last September Charlotte won the international women’s player of the year award, beating other British rivals as well as women from Australia and New Zealand. She said:

‘I’m so glad that the ICC [International Cricket Council] is recognising the women’s game. It’s a big moment for the other girls who have been nominated for this and I am honoured to be included in that short-list, let alone win it. (4)

‘It’s an exciting time to be involved in women’s cricket. If we can bring the World Cup home it can only boost our sport even more.’ (5)

So other than talent, what else does a first class cricketer need?

‘Pads and a helmet are very important. A cricket ball is really hard! Wearing protective gear gives you confidence. Helmets are mandatory for under-18s but I would always wear one. You can lose your looks and your teeth if you get hurt.

‘Cricket is a cruel game and you have to be mentally tough. One bad shot and you’re out. Concentration is key because you can be two or three hours at the crease. Just don’t fear failure and always be positive. Even if you have just scored a duck try to think you will get a century next time!’ (6)

And that’s just what Charlotte has been doing during the World Cup in Australia. In her most recent match against New Zealand, Charlotte was the top scorer, making 57 runs from 79 balls and then, as the team’s bowler, taking four wickets for just 37 runs as New Zealand were bowled out.

Despite her own outstanding performance, Charlotte insists that it isn’t just about her own achievements:

‘It was a brilliant team performance. We’re now really looking forward to our game against the West Indies – where a win will secure us a place in the World Cup final.’ (7)

Conclusion
England’s 31-run win over New Zealand in their opening Super Six match at the ICC Women’s World Cup means they are the only unbeaten team in the tournament.

Now, of course, we know that all of the England team’s dreams came true on Sunday when they beat New Zealand in the final by four wickets to win the Women’s World Cup. Now we look forward to seeing them here on home ground in June, in the Women’s World Twenty20. Will it be a glory day then, too? Whatever the result they’re sure of a big reception.

PrayerDear Father,Thank you for giving us a sense of fair play. Help us to always stick up for what is fair and just and never be afraid of doing so.

Amen.

Reflection
Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘That’s just not cricket!’ meaning ‘That’s not fair!’ Cricket had such a good reputation that if something was wrong or unfair it was said to be ‘not cricket’. If only all sportsmen and women could play with that spirit in mind.

Further information
The England Women’s Cricket team won the Ashes in 2005 – the first time England’s women team had won them in 42 years. (8)

Cricket lingoBoundary: The edge of a cricket field. Crease: The line behind which the batsman stands. Duck: A score of zero. Googly: A clever spin bowl designed to confuse a batsman. Stumps: The three vertical wooden posts a batter must protect.

Silly mid-on/Silly mid-off: fielding positions.

(1) History of cricket, Wikipedia
(2) History of women’s cricket, Wikipedia
(3) Charlotte Edwards, Wikipedia
(4) Edwards is Women’s Player of Year, Cricinfo
(5) On the spot – Charlotte Edwards, Metro
(6) Sported, The Guardian
(7) Women’s Cricket World Cup: England beat New Zealand in first Super Six match, The Telegraph
(8) England triumph in Women’s Ashes, BBC Sport

All websites were accessed on 20th March 2009

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2009

About the author: Jane West

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