Ashes fever returns to Edgbaston on Saturday (1 July) as England Women take on Australia in the first of three IT20s.

And the match marks another #HERStory milestone as for the first time the wicket is being prepared by an all-women grounds team.

Edgbaston has assembled a team of eight female sports turf specialists – led by Meg Lay, Sports Turf Operative at Gloucestershire CCC’s Seat Unique Stadium – as part of efforts to promote cricket careers for women and girls.

Meg, who was one the first female ground staff members in professional cricket, hopes the initiative will encourage more women to follow in her footsteps.

She added: “The sports turf industry is 98% men. If we want women to play on the biggest stages, we need women preparing those stages. Getting women involved is not an exercise in ticking a box, it is absolutely necessary for women’s sport to continue to thrive.

“I love the job and the industry is incredibly welcoming. Being outside all day, and having world class athletes play on pitches I have prepared is a real buzz. I could never go back to a ‘normal’ job. 

“I’ve helped prepare every match wicket at Gloucestershire since the day I started and under the tutelage of Sean Williams, head of sports turf at Gloucestershire, have developed my skills and knowledge immensely. 

“An Ashes pitch will be the highlight of my career so far. We’ve brought together an experienced, talented team of women ground staff and I’m confident we can put on a wicket deserving of such a great occasion. 

“To any women and girls looking for an exciting, rewarding career in grounds management I would say ‘go for it’.”

Meg’s team includes Sports Turf Operatives Jasmine Nicholls, Tara Sandford and Rachel Hunter-Worrall – from Headingley, Arsenal FC and Queen Ethelburga’s College, York, respectively – plus Worcestershire CCC grounds apprentice Carlie Lambert.

Emily Geach from Boconnoc Cricket Club, Cornwall, Elizabeth Parker, from the matchday grounds team at Essex CCC, and Zoe Jones from the Ageas Bowl complete the line-up.

Operations Director at Edgbaston Stadium, Claire Daniel, said: “We’ve been planning this initiative for many months; it’s a great opportunity for these women to set the stage for what should be an amazing match. 

“The match is already set to be played in front of a record crowd for a women’s game in this country (outside of ICC events and Commonwealth Games) with almost 20,000 tickets sold.

“Many colleges offer Turf Management or Sports Turf Management courses, or simply head down to your local club for some volunteering opportunities. It could be the first step to a very rewarding career.

“This is about highlighting opportunities for women in grounds teams but I would love to see women in more sporting roles across the board as there are lots of opportunities.”

Both Meg and Claire are part of the Women in Cricket Employee Network which helped support the grounds team initiative.

Claire Dale, Chief People Officer, ECB, and executive sponsor of the Women in Cricket Employee Network from the ECB, added: “Despite progress in recent years, women remain underrepresented in a range of non-playing professional roles in cricket. 

“The ECB helped to establish a game-wide Women in Cricket Employee Network, to champion those women already working in the game, and attract more women applicants through targeted interventions and campaigning work.”

“There are roles in cricket to suit everyone. Regardless of skillset, prior experience or background, all women can build a rewarding career that suits their aspirations, develops their confidence, and makes a real impact on the game and the communities it serves.’

For more details on training and careers in grounds management, visit the Grounds Management Association website and for volunteering opportunities check out the ECB’s Cricket Collective

Over 13,000 sold for Women’s IT20 vs Pakistan

Pakistan Women will be in Birmingham on Saturday 11 May 2024 and over 13,000 tickets have already been sold.

With the Men’s IT20 already sold out, this is your last chance to see Pakistan at Edgbaston next summer and tickets are available from only £17, with under 16s £5.