England’s performance in the Under 19s Women’s World Cup, and the deluge of interest it generated, underlined the huge potential of women’s sport to keep growing, believes Laura MacLeod, Director of West Midlands Women’s Cricket.
The inaugural U19s WWC in South Africa was a great success, culminating in triumph for India as they beat England in the final. The biggest prize of all eluded Grace Scrivens’ side but they contributed much to the tournament and Central Sparks quartet Hannah Baker, Ellie Anderson, Charis Pavely and Davina Perrin contributed much to England’s achievements.
Warwickshire leg-spinner Baker was the standout player with a string of excellent displays, including three for ten in the semi-final win over Australia, to earn her place in the Team of the Tournament.
“Hannah didn’t play in a couple of games in the early rounds but that was about squad rotation,” said McLeod. “Then, as the tournament went on, we really saw what Hannah Baker can do. She can bowl under pressure, she can bowl with the new ball, she can get one of the best players in the world out in Shafali Verma.
“I rang Hannah during the tournament to offer her her first professional contract and I could tell how delighted she was and how much that meant to her. We are all very proud of her.
“It was fantastic to have four Sparks players out there. Hannah, Ellie and Charis got to play in two high stakes, high pressure games in the semi and the final while Davina’s time will come – she will still be young enough in two years’ time to play in the next U19s World Cup.”
Former Warwickshire Women’s coach Darren Franklin was among England’s coaching staff for the tournament as the Bears’ longstanding place at the heart of women’s game in this country remains.
Women’s cricket to soar in profile with another big year ahead, including a Women’s Ashes series in this country with England meeting Australia in a T20I at Edgbaston on Saturday July 1 (6.30pm).
“Ticket sales for the Ashes game in Birmingham have gone brilliantly,” said MacLeod. “That’s a legacy of the Commonwealth Games and The Hundred and the U19s World Cup will only build further on that. We saw the next generation of talent from all countries and it really captured the interest of existing cricket fans and inspired some new ones.
“It sometimes seems that women’s cricket is growing not just by the year but every month with great excitement now around the Women’s Premier League. The pace at which it is evolving just shows the potential of women’s sport – and we are a long way from finished yet.
“There are huge things ahead for women’s cricket. Now it would be lovely if some of the people that watch the big tournaments also come to watch Central Sparks play to see the future stars. The 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy has doubled its fixtures for 2023 and we will play one more T20 game in the Charlotte Edwards Trophy so hopefully we will get a lot of people along to watch.”
Over 75% sold for Women’s Ashes IT20
For the first time, Edgbaston will host a Women’s Ashes IT20 as the oldest rivalry in cricket returns to Birmingham – and around 15,000 tickets have already been sold!
Watch local stars including Amy Jones and Issy Wong in action as we make history on Saturday 1 July, 6.30pm start. Tickets are available from only £17 for adults and under 16s £5.