10 reasons to watch the women's Ashes
The Test starts today and you should tune in, says England's Sarah Taylor
Sunday 11 August 2013
1. Fast learners
You'll see some of the best female cricketers in the world, and if you haven't watched women's international cricket before, I hope and believe you'll be impressed by the standard. I'd certainly be interested to see some of the people who reckon lack of pace is an issue facing bowlers like England's Katherine Brunt and Australia's Ellyse Perry, neither of whom seems to have too many problems making people hop around or bowling bouncers. I'd be equally interested to see the critics bowling at some of the batters.
2. Close encounters
It will almost certainly be a close game between two of the oldest enemies in sport. Believe me, international matches between England and Australia are contested just as fiercely by the women as by the men. The last few games have been incredibly close – when we played them in the World Cup in Mumbai they won by two runs, and in the t20 World Final last October they won by four runs. So you can definitely say we owe them one.
3. Points to prove
The format of the series means it's not all down to the result of the single Test. The winners of the Test get six points, but the three one-day internationals and three t20s that follow are also worth two points each. I like that – it means Australia, as holders of the Ashes, can't come to the Test looking just to bat out time knowing a draw would be enough for them to retain the trophy – not that they would have been thinking that way, of course!
4. Grounds for appeal
The games are being staged at venues around the country, with the first at one of the most picturesque, Paul Getty's ground at Wormsley in Buckinghamshire. It's a beautiful place for cricket, whether you're playing or watching.
5. Meet and greet
You've got every chance of meeting the players and getting your programme signed – though thinking about it, with some of the girls I'm not sure whether that should necessarily be included among the reasons to come along! Seriously though, when people make the effort to come and watch, we like to show we appreciate it by sticking around and having a chat. It's something we all enjoy doing, and with our experience visiting schools and clubs and coaching young players, we're quite good at communicating.
6. Captain fantastic
You'll see all-time living legend Charlotte Marie Edwards leading out her country! No one deserves to lift the Ashes more than the skipper. I don't know how many times she has played for England now [251 in all formats] but I do know she has scored the best part of 8,500 runs [8,389 to be precise] and she just seems to get better and better. She has not only seen standards rise dramatically in that time, she's been partly responsible for it, constantly raising the bar, demanding more from us and from herself.
7. Rising interest
When you arrive at the ground, you might be surprised at the level of interest from TV companies, newspapers and broadcasters. It's a reflection of both the rising standards and the growing number of girls and women playing the game across the world. The BBC are broadcasting ball-by-ball commentary, Sky are showing the t20s [the second and third of which are being played directly before the men's equivalents at Southampton and Durham], the England and Wales Cricket Board are streaming one of the games on their website. By the end of the series I hope everyone with an interest will know a lot more about the players and about women's international cricket.
8. Value for money
Tickets for the Test match are £10 for adults and only £1 for under-16s (go to ecb.co.uk). And there's plenty going on around the ground, especially on the Sunday.
9. Field of dreams
This relates to standards again, but I've only mentioned the batting and bowling so far. The high quality of the fielding might also raise a few eyebrows. Part of that is improved fitness but a lot of it is technique; the young girls have been playing – and properly coached – from a much earlier age than the previous generation. As a batter, I know how much harder I have to work for every run. If you do make a score, you know you have earned it.
10. Test of nerve
The cricket will be positive. Although the Ashes don't depend solely on the Test, six points would be a huge advantage, and in our warm-up games we've been working on scoring our runs quickly. Also the more support we have, the better – so I'm appealing to the patriotic as well as the curious!
Sarah Taylor was talking to Richard Rae
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