Rachael Heyhoe Flint, (Baroness Heyhoe Flint, OBE, DL) captained the England women’s team touring Australia in 1968 and each player had to raise money to pay for their own way there. That seems like a world away and almost impossible to believe having just seen the first Kia Super League final played out to a thrilling climax. International players the world over have flown in to play alongside England and academy players, representing six teams in this fifteen-match series.
For those that don’t watch Cricket or know much about it, let me explain how colossal this is for the women’s game. Other than the Women’s Big Bash League, which launched in December, in Australia there is no format anywhere in the world like this for women’s Cricket and with the only regular international fixtures being the T20 and Cricket World Cups this is news as big as it gets! Add to this some perspective: in England, the county game is played in front of family and friends with only 19 English women earning money playing cricket. In contrast to England’s 37 teams, Barbados only have 3 local teams, showing the disparity around the world. Women’s Cricket is very much in its infancy, so to have a tournament like this is remarkable and so far, so good it seems judging by Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s crickets comment “In so many ways Finals Day at Chelmsford was a fitting climax, with two high-quality matches featuring some of the best players in the world, all inspiring a new generation of future England cricketers.> The publicity and interest generated around the tournament has given us a real taste of what is possible for the women’s game. With an expansion to include a 50-over tournament next summer ahead of us staging the ICC Women’s World Cup, it is a great base for future success.”
I sit talking with Racheal Heyhoe Flint about her experience’s playing Cricket for England and how things were for her and her team mates as well as reflectingon what is happening now. She is an energetic and passionate supporter of the transition taking place whilst being content with her place in history. Racheal Heyhoe Flint has no desire to “swap places” with the new generation but is excited by what is happening. To be able to sit with a legend of the game, such a pioneer and chat not only about her life, but about the revolution in the sport and see her enthusiasm is amazing. Imagine sitting with W.G Grace and talking about T20? This is how far women’s Cricket has come to be able to sit with someone who is a cornerstone of the modern game and discuss the Kia Super League. A total of 15,465 came to the games with more watching and listening, that’s huge for a first year especially when normal games would be lucky to get to 100!
With the World Cup in England next year I look forward to seeing a major leap forward, overtaking what we thought was amazing first year. The Southern> Vipers may be this year’s champions but what can we except for next year? As Charlotte Edwards said about the fine balance of each game in the tournament ‘... it only takes one ball’
Final: Western Storm 140-5 (20 overs), Southern Vipers 143-3 (18.5 overs). Southern Vipers won by 7 wickets.