With the Women’s Big Bash League over, Heather Knight reflects on another winter down under, pays tribute to one of her predecessors as England captain, is “put to shame by a 105-year-old”, and looks ahead to a trip to Rwanda.
WBBL grows with live streaming – and woeful singing
The second edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) has come to an end and unfortunately for the “Lilac Ladies”, my Hobart Hurricanes side, it’s ended at the same stage as last year with a semi-final loss.
We’ve played some brilliant cricket but have been a little bit inconsistent through the year. Saying that, we’ve managed to punch above our weight for a second year in a row and make it to the semi-finals, despite many predictions to the contrary.
I’ve really enjoyed my time in the WBBL once again. It’s definitely grown since last year with more publicity, more coverage and it’s great to see some bigger crowds too.
The double-headers with the men’s Big Bash League are, I think, definitely the way forward until the competition grows enough to stand by itself – although it would be great to see the time gap between the end of the women’s matches and the start of the men’s games reduced, in order to get more people to come to both.
The live online streaming of every WBBL match, outside of the TV broadcast fixtures, has been a very good addition, with highlights of every game available freely, and the social media presence has also been great.
Unfortunately I got roped into embarrassing myself with my woeful singing, featuring in the Hurricanes’ rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on the WBBL Pitch Perfect show with Aussie comedian Bobby. Note: the costumes were to try to mask our dreadful voices!
I think there is a lot that can be learned from the WBBL to take into the ECB’s second season of the Kia Super League this summer.
Having two expanding domestic competitions in Australia and England will only help the global development of the women’s game, so hopefully the Super League will bounce off the back of the second WBBL, and of course the ICC Women’s World Cup on home soil in June and July.
Remembering Rachael Heyhoe Flint
I was deeply saddened to hear the news about Rachael Heyhoe Flint passing away, as she was an incredible lady who I was lucky enough to have met on several occasions.
She managed the MCC team that I played in against the Rest of the World back in 2014 at Lord’s, and I remember her being thrilled that the game was being played – for obvious reasons, after she had fought so hard to play at the home of cricket herself.
On that day, she brought along her old England blazer and she was massively chuffed it still fitted her, 50 years later! The things she has done for women’s cricket are remarkable, and as a current group of players, we owe her a massive amount.
Talking of past England players, I had the absolute privilege of meeting Eileen Ash, the oldest living Test cricketer (male or female) for some filming before I left for Australia, and she is easily one of the most extraordinary ladies I’ve ever met.
She’s 105, does yoga every week and I’ve met teenagers who have a lot less energy than she does! It was amazing to hear some of her experiences of playing cricket for England, especially the boat trips they used to have to take to play in Australia, and she also took me through her yoga routine.
My pride, and a number of my muscle groups, are still in tatters after being put to shame by a 105-year-old…
The life of a modern female cricketer
Looking back at how the lives of Rachael and Eileen were as England cricketers, compared to where we are now, there’s certainly a stark difference.
The addition of the Big Bash and the Super League to the calendar, alongside increased international commitments, has made the women’s game today truly an all-year-round operation. It’s amazing to be involved in, but it also means a lot more time on the road.
This Christmas was my third in a row away from home, but it was great to spend it with some of the Hurricanes girls and a stray Melbourne Renegade for an “orphans’ Christmas”.
The England team has a tradition of a Christmas Day run, and I was able to drag along Hurricanes team-mates Erin Burns and Amy Satterthwaite to join me this year.
Having played pretty much non-stop since April, I’m looking forward to a few weeks’ break and I’m massively excited to be heading to Rwanda again for a few days to link up with the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, the charity of which I’m a trustee.
The building of the ground in Rwanda is now in progress and is starting to look a lot like a cricket pitch.
It’s been an eye-opener, seeing how much work and detail goes into this sort of project – I now know a lot more about types of soil than I ever thought I would.
The charity still needs to raise £250,000 to complete the pavilion and develop into a community hub where cricket is forging ties and building hope in a place that desperately needs it following its chequered history.
You can read more BBC columns from Heather during 2017, when the BBC Sport website will show video highlights of the Women’s World Cup in June and July. BBC Radio will have increased coverage of the Super League, with commentaries on every round of games.