Lord’s and Ladies join forces at last to forge new first for women’s cricket
Was this helpful? August 1993 World Cup finalA crowd of 5,000, including 16-year-old future captain -Charlotte Edwards, saw England defeat New Zealand by 67 runs. Women’s cricket When Charlotte Edwards made her 1996 debut for England, she was in culottes. The first two times she turned out at Lord’s women were not permitted to be members. On Tuesday she led MCC against Middlesex. Sure, there are many moments that stand out as markers of how far the women’s game has evolved since Edwards, the former World Cup winning captain, started her journey. Middlesex’s belated invitation to play at HQ qualifies as another.“To walk out again and be captain of MCC it was a very proud moment,” she said at stumps. Her teams lost a tight contest, unable to defend a total of 145 for three they made batting first and the winning runs being struck with a ball to spare. But to Edwards the result of the exhibition match was less important than the fact it happened at all.“We were allowed in for the day,” she recalled of those less enlightened days. “So now every time I come here the hairs on my neck stand up because it is the best venue in the world and to think now this is normal for women’s cricketers to be playing at Lord’s and hopefully also for domestic cricketers. That’s the special thing about today.”It is significant, too, that only 12 months ago Angus Fraser, the Middlesex managing director of cricket, cooled expectations of a domestic women’s game at Lord’s. “You have to look at it realistically,” he said then, noting the logistical challenges of finding space to play on cricket’s busiest piece of real estate. But then came the watershed summer of 2017. Timeline Women’s cricket at Lord’s August 1976 First matchRachael Heyhoe Flint captained England to victory over Australia in a one-day international but it was another 11 years before the home of cricket hosted another. Reuse this content Taken as a whole, women’s county cricket needs a lot of work with the ECB still weighing up how to transform a bloated competition with too many amateur qualities, especially compared with domestic 50-over cricket in Australia, which is semi-professional. For Edwards the presence of Lord’s and other Test venues can contribute in lifting those standards. “You hope Middlesex will get a game here every year,” she said, “and hopefully it can now be a County Championship game rather than an exhibition match.”There was another first for the Middlesex women at Lord’s, wearing new uniforms specifically tailored to them rather than being asked to wear male sizes. “It’s actually really important,” the world champion Wilson said. “There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in kit down to your knees.”A long way from the culottes of old, progress for the women’s game continues to arrive in all shapes and sizes.Edwards takes swipe at ECBCharlotte Edwards, the former national captain, has admonished the England and Wales Cricket Board administrators for failing to schedule a women’s international fixture at Lord’s the year after England won the World Cup in front of a sold-out crowd at the ground.“I’m really disappointed there’s not an international this summer here after last year was such an incredible experience,” she said after captaining an MCC side at the ground. “There should be a women’s international here every year at Lord’s. For the touring team, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we did for a number of years.”England’s women first played at Lord’s in 1976 under the leadership of the late Rachael Heyhoe-Flint. Each summer between 1997 and 2013 included a match at the traditional home of cricket, but the only one since then was the World Cup final last July, attracting an attendance in excess of 26,000. In recent years, the ECB has opted for county venues. That plan continues when England host New Zealand and South Africa throughout June and July Hide Cricket Charlotte Edwards Support The Guardian May 2014 2014 – MCC v Rest of the WorldAustralia’s Meg Lanning and India’s Mithali Raj stole the show for the visitors as part of Lord’s 200th birthday celebrations. Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Thank you for your feedback. Show “What are culottes?” It was a question Middlesex’s Australian import Hayleigh Brennan put to her new team-mates as they looked out over Lord’s, where they would later step out for their county’s first match at the ground. Shoulders were shrugged until one cautiously replied: “A skirt with shorts?” She was right. Until two decades ago, it was with practically bare legs and high socks, rather than trousers, that women were permitted to play the game. Since you’re here… June 2009 World Twenty20 finalHeld on the same day as their male counterparts, Edwards helped England to victory over New Zealand again. Read more Topics Share on LinkedIn Read more Cricket for idiots: there are 100 reasons not to like the ECB’s big idea Middlesex “With last year’s World Cup win, someone, somewhere has clocked that the balance has changed,” said Isabelle Westbury, who captained Middlesex from 2014 to 2016 and unsuccessfully lobbied for a Home of Cricket fixture throughout. “It would not have reflected well had the Middlesex women still not played at Lord’s.”That the curtain-raiser was played between sides nicknamed the “Maidens” and “Ladies” was a reminder the MCC is still an organisation steeped in conservatism. But that did not detract from the welcome parts of the Lord’s tradition, with the pavilion bell rung by Anne Savoury, who represented Middlesex for nearly two decades. Inside, volunteers who served women’s cricket far before it was fashionable dined in the committee room.In the grandstand school children were invited in their thousands in an attempt to break the record for the best attended domestic women’s game in England. It might have helped if it had been scheduled at a weekend but there was no doubting the efforts of the club to make the occasion feel right. “This is a proud moment for a few of us who have been bashing down the door for a women’s game,” said Rob Lynch, the Middlesex commercial director.From the playing ranks the veteran Beth Morgan, who was in the team at Lord’s when England won the World T20 trophy in 2009, said she never imagined getting the chance to turn out at the ground again. Fran Wilson, who played in last year’s World Cup win, was quickly taken back to the euphoria of the sold-out ground for the July final when walking through the famous old gates. As for the excited teenagers in the XI, they spoke with hope of a time when turning out at Lord’s will be second nature. features The long road to equality How Charlotte Edwards overcame the odds to be an Ashes-winning captain September 1998 MCC membersA historic vote, with 69.8% in favour, ended 200 years of male-only membership at Lord’s. Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. 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