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Blog: “Women’s cricket never stops evolving and we’ve got to celebrate that.”

Beth Barrett-Wild, Head of The Hundred Women’s Competition and Female Engagement at the ECB, reflects on a long, busy and extremely rewarding International Women’s Day.

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Blog: “Women’s cricket never stops evolving and we’ve got to celebrate that.”

Alice Capsey taking part in a Dynamos session in Plumstead on International Women's Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is always hectic. This year, the alarm went off at 6am. I knew I was doing some media interviews throughout the day, so like I tell my kids – Eden and Ben – important days are “hair wash days”!  So after a quick shower to make myself look presentable, it was down to the station, destination Woolwich Arsenal.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning – a perfect match for just how I see IWD. I headed to Plumstead Manor School where the brilliant Sabah Hamed had organised a Dynamos Cricket taster event to celebrate the day. We had around 60 girls take part and we had Oval Invincibles player and winner of The Hundred 2021, Alice Capsey, there too. It was just a really great event.

To see so many girls, many of whom hadn’t even picked up a bat and ball before, have the opportunity to play cricket and meet Alice was so lovely to see. I hope it will inspire them to feel that cricket could be something they want to play in the future. From a personal perspective, it’s also so nice to get away from the desk and see events like that in action. It’s just so fulfilling, seeing these girls playing cricket and enjoying themselves.

Beth Barrett-Wild talking to Sky Sports News at the Dynamos session in Plumstead

Beth Barrett-Wild talking to Sky Sports News at the Dynamos session in Plumstead

There was some media at the school covering the event as part of their IWD coverage, with Alice doing a few pieces to camera with Sky Sports News. With Alice being so young (17), she had to take time off from her own schooling to attend this event at another school, which I found quite amusing! But she was brilliant at engaging with the girls today and more broadly she’s a very relatable role model since her outstanding performance in The Hundred last summer. For the girls to see somebody their age playing professional cricket shows the direction the game is going in.

Once all that was wrapped up, I made my way up to Lord’s, for an afternoon at MCC’s Evolution of Women’s Cricket Exhibition and Symposium. That was quite a change of scene, from inner-city London to 120+ people in the Long Room. But it was so refreshing to see a variety of different ways the women’s and girls’ game is evolving and celebrating IWD. The morning was about getting a glimpse into the future of the next generation of the game, then the afternoon was about acknowledging the game’s history.

My role at Lord’s was sitting on a panel with Danni Warren, Regional Director of Women’s Cricket for Sunrisers, and Amara Carr, a player at Sunrisers and London Spirit. That panel was hosted by Claire Taylor, former England Women’s cricketer and absolute legend of the game, with the conversation centring on a discussion about the professionalisation of the women’s game. There were a few challenging questions from the floor, which I really welcomed – questions around scheduling, the role of The Hundred, and the salary gap that still exists between men’s and women’s players. But that scrutiny, informed level of interest, and genuine care for the future of women’s cricket, is what helps to accelerate change. That’s why I’m more than happy to talk about those challenges. We’re no longer shying away from difficult conversations.

Beth Barrett-Wild on the panel for the MCC's Evolution of Women’s Cricket Exhibition and Symposium at Lord's

Beth Barrett-Wild on the panel for the MCC's Evolution of Women’s Cricket Exhibition and Symposium at Lord's

As an organisation, we’re committed to transforming the game for women and girls and to fronting up to help make it happen. There’s an acknowledgement that we’re not yet where we want to be. But I know that everyone, in every department at ECB believes in what we are doing, and everyone is playing their part behind the scenes to help make cricket an equally accessible and equally relevant sport for girls and boys.

Second event done and a few final media interviews to do – a live discussion with Female Cricket focusing on the ICC Women’s World Cup which is taking place over in New Zealand. Then a final live interview with Phil Williams on Times Radio at 9.20pm which enabled me to talk about what’s coming next with the We Got Game platform we have just launched.  We saw last summer the immediate impact of The Hundred in really starting to shift perceptions about who cricket is “for”. We Got Game will help us to further turbocharge this movement and shine a light on another massive year for women’s cricket. That finished off a long, tiring day, but a day that left me feeling fulfilled and very positive about the future.

We Got Game: Turbocharging Women's & Girls' Cricket

We Got Game: Turbocharging Women's & Girls' Cricket

Women’s cricket never stops evolving and developing and we’ve got to celebrate that. International Women’s Day is a brilliant day, and I’m glad it’s here now, but in my role it’s also the stuff I live and breathe every day. Hopefully one day we won’t need IWD, because we’ll be living in a truly gender-equal world. For now, though, it’s an important moment in the calendar when people can come together, celebrate success, and look at how to address some of the challenges that still exist.

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