While the 2016 was a breakthrough season for women’s cricket, in many ways it was a missed opportunity.
The first ever women’s cricket week began on Saturday 2nd July as Sky partnered up with the ECB to encourage females of all ages and from all walks of life to get involved in cricket.
The initiative was created to boost coverage and participation in the sport. It was centered around the England v Pakistan Ladies T20 series that was broadcasted live on Sky Sports. Ladies clubs from all around London were covered including Harrow Town Ladies in an attempt to promote club cricket. The initiative was a big success as more people got the opportunity to watch women play on the international stage, but one week is not about to change the face of women’s cricket.
Women still do not receive the same coverage as men. International men’s series’ both home and away are given full exposure. Not only that but men’s domestic cricket is given more exposure than women’s international cricket. It’s no secret that men’s sports are, on the whole, more popular than women’s but how is that supposed to change if games are not covered and priority is given based on current viewership? How are young girls supposed to develop a deep interest in sports without role models to aspire to on TV.
The last time the England women played a fixture at the Lord’s cricket ground was in 2013. Should their games not take priority over T20 Blast games or other county games? During the Kia Super League only one of the Surrey Stars home games was played at the Kia Oval whilst the other was played in Guildford. More than 2,000 people attended the Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds game at The Oval and it was a great opportunity for young players to play on the big stage. The final was held at the Essex County cricket ground and attracted a much smaller crowd than that at The Oval. There was no fixture set to be played at Lord’s within five days of the final either side and it would have been a great opportunity to showcase women’s cricket at ‘the home of cricket’..
The Kia Super League (coming straight after Women’s Cricket Week) was the perfect platform to build from but the ladies received no live coverage from Sky throughout the tournament neither was there anywhere else to stream live games. Much more could have been done for the ladies to increase support and awareness of the league online and via social media. The KSL final came the day after the T20 Blast final; it was the perfect time to promote the women’s game but very little was done.
And now? There may be a little more awareness of the England ladies whereabouts but as they begin their tours in the West Indies and Sri Lanka, without any real coverage or highlights for the home crowd all the momentum built up over the summer will surely die down. We can only hope that as support for the KSL grows, the ladies will be given a lot more attention and support and women’s cricket week will no longer be needed.