Never underestimate the role model
England Women’s captain Charlotte Edwards led a recent girls cricket coaching event in Huntingdonshire
The article below was originally published in the Huntingdonshire Coaches Association Newsletter by Steve Brown from Eaton Socon CC
My daughter, Hayley, started playing cricket at U9s. I put her in as wicketkeeper. She had a good eye for the ball and could catch. When batting she struggled with the notion of ‘playing straight’ but not with despatching
anything down leg-side into the next field.
By the end of the season she was declaring that Charlotte Edwards was her hero and that she wanted to play for England too! Sure thing… go for it, I told her. It therefore caused much consternation in our house when it became known that Charlotte was to hold a coaching clinic at Godmanchester Cricket Club, concentrating specifically on coaching girls.
I thought I was going to get away with keeping it all hush-hush until it was carried across the local press. Days of heartfelt pleading from Hayley to go along to the session, if only as an observer, came to a blessed end when the invitation was extended to her and a friend to attend as coaching fodder. I was indeed thankful.
As the big day approached, the atmosphere in our house became ever more feverish. “Will Charlotte sign my bat/ photograph/cricket programme?” “Will I be able to get my picture taken with Charlotte?” “Will I be able to keep wicket?” “Shall I wear my new gloves?” I was deluged with a whirlwind of questions, most of which I had no answer to.
The big day did indeed arrive. Within two minutes of arriving at Godmanchester, all of the aforementioned items had in fact been signed. There’s nothing like getting in early!
After some introductory words to the coaching fraternity present, Charlotte began her session with a drill on how to play the sweep shot. As she got into her coaching points, arms extended, hitting high to low, the usual stuff, I was suddenly struck by the atmosphere amongst the girls gathered around her: absolute silence; rapt attention; not a squeak from any of them. I was dumbstruck.
What had happened to the constant chatter I have to endure every Friday evening? What about the group at the back giggling at some private joke? What about the hair tugging, the foot stamping, and the face pulling? Where were the balls bouncing across the grass in all directions? Where was the constant clatter of bats being hit against each-other (or worse)? It was uncanny.
And it continued like this throughout the whole session. As soon as Charlotte spoke - complete silence. I didn’t think it possible for a group of 11-12 year old girls, even less so for my daughter!
At the end of the session we took our umpteenth photo of Hayley and others with Charlotte, said our thank-yous and finally started on our way home. I volunteered my observations to my awestruck daughter on the way. Why wasn’t she so attentive when I was coaching her? Why was it always so difficult to be heard over her and her friends when I was trying to make a point? Why did I always have to raise my voice?
“But dad, Charlotte is the captain of England!”
“I totally agree, but...”
“She used to be like me, playing with her brother and other boys.”
“I understand that, but...”
“She was so encouraging, so patient, so calm and relaxed. She did great demonstrations which made it easy for us to understand what we were supposed to do. She didn’t criticise at all but always said ‘bad luck, try again.’ She explained everything brilliantly!”
I left it at that. I was indeed now the one on a sticky wicket. I felt like the skipper who had just lost the toss standing over a wicket doing a passable impression of a road. Totally deflated. It was undeniable, and pointless arguing the point with her.
Charlotte had indeed been all of those things, as we knew she would be. Patient beyond the call of duty, in spite of signing her name what must have been a couple of hundred times or more. Happy to have her picture taken as many times as she was asked... and totally charming with it.
Nobody went away disappointed. All of them went away having probably learned more in the previous 90 minutes than they had during all of last season. But didn’t we, the volunteer coaches, do all of those things too? Didn’t we also encourage? Didn’t we also enthuse and inspire our charges? Couldn’t we demonstrate a sweep or a pull without totally embarrassing ourselves? Were we not also good role models for our kids?
Maybe. But not today. For this was Charlotte’s day. And Hayley and her mates loved it...every minute of it.