To celebrate International Women’s Day, England and Lancashire bowler Kate Cross reflects on her cricketing journey.
So today marks the day that women are celebrated worldwide.
It’s up to you how you recognise the strides that women have made in all aspects of life but for me it’s a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the progress that has occurred in sport, particularly women’s cricket.
I remember being a scruffy little eight-year-old joining my local cricket club, Heywood CC.
I was the only girl in the under-11 age group and as you can imagine that brought some attention and chat around match time.
“They’ve got a girl on their team, we’ll easily win this. Who can hit her for the biggest six?!” As a natural competitor (even as a tyke) I’d use this to spur me on and there was no greater feeling than getting the boys out!
Progressing through the age groups at Heywood, I particularly recall playing in a third-team match away somewhere in Manchester, I was about 15.
My mum was sat on the side and when I came onto bowl she overheard some of the opposition crowd say: “They’ve got a girl playing for them, they must be desperate, scraping the barrel aren’t they?” Mum bit her tongue and watched their faces as I took four wickets. Well, I have always loved to prove people wrong!
I’d like to think that perceptions of women playing a male dominated sport have come a long way since then. There is still the odd comment flying around on social media of course but on the whole I think people now have a better understanding of the standards we have reached.
So much so, that last summer saw me make my first-team debut at Heywood CC in the Central Lancashire League. Something I had wanted to do since I was that scruffy eight-year-old but never thought I would. I was the first girl to do this in our league and I’d now like to think that some young girls starting their cricket careers won’t be held back by their gender.
Here is me playing in the under-11s and then the first team, 15 years apart:
We are in a really special time as female cricketers. The last three years have gone above and beyond all expectations of what we ever dreamed of achieving: professional contracts, increase in ICC prize money, Kia car sponsorship, Sky Sports and BBC radio coverage of our entire Women’s Ashes Series, the first Women’s Big Bash League and this summer will see the inaugural Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL).
Sometimes, being in the middle of all this, you almost take for granted what is actually going on. Then you write it down and you get that butterfly feeling in your stomach realising that you’re part of something huge.
We always talk as an England team about pushing the boundaries, smashing them infact, and becoming the world’s best. This became our campaign for the Women’ Ashes last year, as we feel it fitted perfectly with what we were trying to achieve as a team – both on and off the field.
I personally feel especially lucky because I am a Chance to Shine Coaching Ambassador which means that I get to go into schools and help inspire some young kids to play this sport which I fell in love with as a little girl.
It’s incredible to think of the progress we have made in women’s cricket and it’s so exciting to think what is ahead. With an ICC Women’s World Twenty20, the WCSL, two winter tours and then a home ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017 there is certainly plenty to look forward to.
I’d like to take this chance to thank you all for your continued support and of course, happy International Women’s Day!