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World champions return home

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 07:29 UK time, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

This morning, the victorious England women's team will land at Heathrow airport with the gleaming World Cup Trophy.

Most had a very late night after the win over New Zealand on Sunday, but all managed to roll out of bed - albeit slowly - and into their smart 'number ones' (official team suits) for a photo call at 9.00am the next morning.

I'm not sure everyone felt 100 per cent as they hopped onto a small motor boat to take them across Sydney Harbour for a final photo-shoot near the the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but no one really cared.

After that it was check out time and the hotel lobby was buzzing with hugs and goodbyes.
The trophy itself was tucked up inside a large silver box and a debate took place as to whether it should go in the hold, or whether they'd be able to take it on board with them.

In the end it was decided the box was too big and heavy to take into the cabin, but it didn't have a padlock and the trophy is rather pricey. Gemma Broad eventually came to the rescue with one of those mini suitcase padlocks.

England captain Charlotte Edwards

Jenny Gunn and Isa Guha found out at the last moment that they would be flying back on their own, which was a bit of an oversight. They'd both come out separately from the rest of the squad in order to play cricket in Australia prior to the tournament, and apparently the ICC booked their return flight on the same airline, which was different to that of the rest of the England team.

Despite being World Cup winners, the players were all flying back economy class - you can't imagine the men's team doing that, can you? They fly business as standard.

The ECB did try to upgrade the squad, but there were only seven seats available in business and the decision was taken to keep everyone together.

Until there's more money in the women's game and sponsorship of these talented individuals, they'll be flying economy for some time to come. They'll also continue to share rooms on tour as they have been doing this last fortnight.

It is too soon to be calling for them to become full professionals though, as it would create a big gulf between England and the other nations, which wouldn't help the overall health of the international game.

The players though, are feeling under increasing pressure as they train and play, while continuing to try to hold down regular jobs. The particular problem with cricket is that tours are long. You're never just talking about a week or so at a time. It's more like a month, sometimes more.

Chance to Shine coaching contracts have been an immense help to a number of players and at least one more is expected to become available this summer. In the meantime, the ECB needs to use the profile gained by this victory to convince the commercial sector that these players are viable commercial assets, sporting ambassadors and marketable personalities.

They need the public - and girls in particular - to start recognising the faces of Charlotte Edwards (photo above), Isa Guha and Katherine Brunt and the others. And it needs to be done before the nation forgets the events of Sunday morning in Sydney.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Congrats go to the team and the 5 players picked for the "Team of the tournament".

    Glad to see the iCC are combining the two T20 tournaments in the summer, at least the final is on the same day, please correct me if i'm wrong. Another good step for the game.

  • Comment number 2.

    Congratulations to all the team from the backroom helpers all that way to the skipper.
    You've done the nation proud - now let's see you emulate this form for the summer so that us folks at home can cheer you at our home grounds!
    All the best

  • Comment number 3.

    Congratulations girls!! you do all women cricketers proud! wish i could have seen the game in Sydeney, would have been awesome! hopefully you'll get the kind of coming home party that the men did after the ashes!

  • Comment number 4.

    i have done work with the chance to shine programme and it is a fantastic project that needs to be supported more by the commercial sector.

    the womens cricket team is a fantastic asset to the ECB and should be supported to a greater extent by the mens side of the game. there should be regular "mixed-matches" with both men and women playing. these should not be competitive but done as fundraising excercises for the womens game.

    only with greater media exposure are the women going to reap the rewards they deserve, both financially and stature-wise.

    i take my hat off to the women's team, who (appart from a minor blip agains australia when they knew they had already qualified for the final) blew everyone away and showed their emense quality and desire to win.

    WELL DONE LADIES

  • Comment number 5.

    Well done girls. I am a male who played my cricket for Guildford City before moving to Sydney back in the 70s. I remember when playing for Farncombe at Broadwater that the women would play at the Farncombe Wanderers ground next door in their 'frocks' and pads. It's great to see women's cricket improve so much and for me to actually enjoy you coming out to Australia and winning the Womens World Cup. I was greatly thrilled by your success and almost missed you beating the Windies when I had to attend a meeting at a club around the corner from Drummoyne Oval. I take my hat off to you; I am as proud of you like any England winning team of male and female participants alike. Enjoy your glory, I salute and celebrate with you.

    Dave Matthews
    Sydney Australia

  • Comment number 6.

    It's just not cricket!

  • Comment number 7.

    A fantastic result for English Cricket. Gender is irrelevent, these are very very good cricketers.

    Getting players out there as as ambasadors for the game is very important. County boards should be pushing for these ladies to be part of benefit sides and festival matches.

    The ECB should be making far more of this fantastic result. Ask most people to name an English Lady Cricketer and most will still only come up with Rachael H-F!

    I hope some of the administrators will now wake up to the fact that Cricket is played by both men and women..... and to be honest many of the ladies are better than us men!

  • Comment number 8.

    I would like to know if Alison Mitchell could explain to me why the England players should not become professional? They are international players and should be the same as any male players or teams in other sports who are full time. Why as a country do we have to wait until people catch us up, why cannot we lead the way for once? Personally I think it can only benefit the game. It would spark interest as players could see that a career can be made of playing cricket. It would raise standards, albeit in the medium term as other countries moved towards full time players and this would then strengthen play etc. Opposition countries have the money to move to full time players they just choose not to use it. India (IPL, TV deals etc), England (Sky money), Australia (finances always in a good state of health from reading reports), South Africa (I presume they would have the cash), New Zealand (would probably find it). There's five countries in my opinion who would move to a full time player situation. The arguement that it increases the gap between teams maybe valid but it has happened in mens cricket before. Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc so the precedent is not new. Just in the women's game.

    I am proud that the team won the world cup. It's nice to know we can get behind one of our national teams at the moment. But this is a massive opportunity. The ECB needs to put a monumental effort into establishing the women's game and have the perfect excuse to do so now. They need to maximise the exposure of the players and get them out there as soon as possible. Like the previous poster, I am working on the 'chance to shine' programme and most girls say they do not like cricket etc. This attitude needs to be broken down and seeing women's players as role models will help to do this. I can educate, coach and inform them that they have female players and that they are world champions etc but its not the same as meeting the players themselves or being coached by a female coach. It's just something about the sexes and role models etc that the girls want to meet the female coach or player to then believe they can do it themselves. However it's never going to happen if player X can't get time off work on a Monday at say 3.15pm or 3.30pm to run an after-school club or go to an event during a weekday. These players need to be on the popular programms that people see as TV sells everything. Get them in the press and on the chatshows etc. Then turn professional, establish a run of beating teams constitently and then watch the interest surge. People are attracted to winners, the Ashes being the prime example but we squandered the legacy of that. Let's not do this with the women's game. However I feel that the ineptitude of the ECB will play a part in this and they will squander this opportunity as well. Claire Connor has a tough job and is up to the task but how far will she be allowed to go? Hopefully she can create the legacy for the women's game that was never really established in the men's game after the Ashes!

  • Comment number 9.

    A brilliant result for everyone - espacially those of us who have been lucky enough to watch the team progress over the last few years.

    One only has to read some of the junk being written in the media to realise that the women have a huge task to gain recognition and support.

    Its hard to believe but out there are blokes who seem to think cricket involves knocking someone's head off or smashing the ball out the ground and if one can't acheive these objectives then the game's not worth watching. Great, well you stay away whilst the rest of us can enjoy the guile of the spinners, the aggression of bowlers like Nunny (Brunt), the technical skill of batters such as the Taylor(s), Raj and numerous others, the wicketkeeping of Squirt (that's the England keeper - and a standard of glove work that wouldn't disgrace any men's game) and the fielding of the like of Lyd (Greenway) and others.

    Paula Ratcliffe is not a leading marathon runner when her times are compared to the men yet, quite rightly, the media do not compare her to the men. Neither should it be in the case in other sports. Real gender equality should mean equal media coverage.









  • Comment number 10.

    All of the England women's team I believe retain a closer relationship with the Clubs that developed them than say the male professionals. The World Cup needs to be toured at grass roots level and their achievement lauded by the wider cricket community. ECB take note.

    There is a choice out there for girls to try cricket in either a mixed or single sex environment from a very young age (7+). I encourage my daughter to take-part in both forms of the game. This improves her skills and challenge her ability against boys of the same age. The next challenge is player retention is a problem for both girls and boys in club cricket when teenage distractions come to the fore.

    But most importantly well done to the England women!

  • Comment number 11.

    Fantastic result - so glad I got up to watch the final couple of hours - and great to see they are getting the media coverage they deserve. It's so important for girls to see women's sporting achievements being recognised, which hopefully will lead to more girls wanting to try cricket and other sports.

    They're also a great group of individuals and role models. Last year they played South Africa at Canterbury and were more than happy to spend time talking with the Kent U11 girls' and signed all manner of bats, shirts and hats for a considerable period of time. In my view, they thoroughly deserve their success, bring on the World Twenty20!

  • Comment number 12.

    Alison, thank you for your work over the last few weeks. To quote a few sections of this blog...

    [QUOTE] This morning, the victorious England women's team will land at Heathrow airport with the gleaming World Cup Trophy. [QUOTE]...

    ... In the light of this I'd like to know why the BBC's coverage (which this blog is part of!) didn't include a segment on the main BBC News, which has just finished, of the team arriving at Heathrow. Very poor.

    [QUOTE] They need the public - and girls in particular - to start recognising the faces of Charlotte Edwards (photo above), Isa Guha and Katherine Brunt and the others. And it needs to be done before the nation forgets the events of Sunday morning in Sydney.[QUOTE]...

    ... Sadly it seems even the BBC have forgotten about them little more than 48 hours on - reasoned by what I've put above.


  • Comment number 13.

    Sorry Alison,

    You've done a great job.

    But agree with the above particularly as the sports editor's focus appears more on the IPL since Sunday that few will watch on Setanta and only has a few English underperforming stars.

    Please feel free to pass on our complaints to Mr Bose.

  • Comment number 14.

    Congrats to the team and all who took part / contributed.

    But my opinion is that the "Women's game" already receives far more media coverage than it deserves.

    I've watched a few matches whenever I've been switching through sky sports and for me, the standard was on par with medium/lower level men's club cricket.Not a big problem for me as a viewer, in fact quite enjoyable to watch matches that are so far below the men's 1st class standard, to remind us all how difficult abtting actually is when you're out there (I struggle to get it off the square!)

    As a medium/lower level club player, I'm quite jealous that these women, who are on a par with me in terms of ability, get to play at 1st class grounds, get given kit, clothing and are flown all around the world to play. And then have the audacity to complain about being in economy class!

    I've never been able to afford a tour further afield than the Isle of Wight!

    I do not resent the fact these women have this opportunity - in fact I think "good on 'em" - but we live in a world of supply and demand and the fact is that very few people are interested in women's cricket. The reason being, it's just not very good. The same reason that nobody is interested in watching matches in the Cirencester District (mens) league, other than a few committed family members and maybe some local villagers with nothing else to do.

    So to say that womens cricket should be professional is a joke. Professional sport should be able to make money - and nobody is interested in paying to watch these women play (other than the afore-mentioned friends and family).

    So many, many congratulations on winning the tournamnet. But please try to keep this in perspective and realise how fortunate you are...you are extremely lucky, not hard done by!

  • Comment number 15.

    Brandyrecovery - I think watching womens cricket in direct comparison to the men's game does indeed give a poor comparison. There is no one in the womens game who can bowl as fast as Shane Bond or hit as far as Peitersen and that is a simple matter of anatomy and physiology.

    I was lucky enough to spend several years living and training with a member of the England Womens team. We were unable to work in full time jobs due to training and playing commitments but contested positions within one of the men's ECB University Centres of Excellence. Our peers included Rob Ferley (Kent), Michael Brown (Surrey), Will Smith (Durham) and previous memebers included Andrew Strauss.

    I think the comments about the level of cricket played by these highly talented individuals is harsh at least. You underestimate them as you are comparing them to men; who are faster and stronger. Many of the womens team play in Men's league which will be of a higher standard than yours and in the past have played for universities in matches against counties. Till you realise the ability needed and the dedication it takes to reach this level i do not think you are in a position to make such sweeping criticisms.

    Making the men's game professional may well have destroyed part of the game, players don't play for the love of it as the women do. They are playing because they get paid to.

    It is correct that individuals who are lucky enough to represent their country do indeed get flown there at the expense of the sports governing body. Is this wrong? They are good enough to play for their country...

    If you ask any of the individual players, none of them will feel hard done by...in fact the majority will feel priviledged and grateful to play for their country. They don't ask for money for playing and won't, they have all grown up funding their cricet through part time work, family contributions and the occasional grant such as the Cahnce to Shine project. This makes them 100% more committed to their cricket and their success.

    Nothing should be said to take away the achievement that the England Team has gained in Australia. How many times have the men won the world cup?...............

  • Comment number 16.

    Congratulations all round to the England Women's team as well as the backroom staff who have done a fantastic job. I suppose the ECB will give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done but guess what guys - you're going to have to put a lot more effort in promoting the girls so that everyone knows who they are because these girls are a really special bunch of cricketers who are a lot more grounded than their male counterparts (inc. Brandyrecovery)and they just get on with it as opposed to whining about it - their male counterparts could learn a few lessons from the girls.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well done! I watched the final and was impressed with the skill and effort shown by both sides. There were a few key players who make any side better than the rest but how good to see a last minute (almost) replacement step in and become player of the match! Shaw did! My daughter is starting to play cricket at 11 and has joined a team (guesting last year for 1 adult game!) and the standard there was good too. We should all get behind this England team. Be proud and give them our full support. Come on England!

  • Comment number 18.

    Brandyrecovery misses the point completely and as such, does men a grave disservice. To compare the women to the men is total nonsense for the reasons ninjabanker has said. They are the BEST in the world at their chosen sport and they represent the whole country.... not a village. They should only ever be compared to their peers as should anyone else. Paula Radcliffe winning a womans marathon but finishing a few minutes behind British make athletes does not diminish her achievement. She is still the BEST at here sport and should be lauded accordingly.

  • Comment number 19.

    I watched as much of the tournament as time allowed.
    The Egland team were in a great vein of form & thoroughly deserved the victory over NZ.
    Congratulations to ALL concerned with the team.

  • Comment number 20.

    I agree entirely with ninjabanker and can only applaud the standard reached by these women.

  • Comment number 21.

    I must pass on my congratulations to BrandyRecovery (no 14) for beautifully illustrating the points I made (see no 9).

    Perhaps, if you get a spare moment, you can provide the evidence to support your comment "And then have the audacity to complain about being in economy class!". I've not seen or heard any member of the team complain about being in Economy class so evidence please.

  • Comment number 22.

    In response to the question posed below as to why women should not go pro, the simple fact of the matter is money. They would have to be funded by the mens game and though it may not be a popular point of view on this board, why should they?

    As it is, the pinnacle of the game, mens Test Cricket looks destined to go the way of the dodo as only two countries in the world, England and Australia draw any decent sized crowds. I'm terribly sorry, but in the long run people are simply not going to pay to watch a substandard product, which womens cricket is, when compared to the mens game.

    The only way a sport such as womens tennis (the only sport I can think of where the mens game subsidises the womens) manages to sustain itself this way is by having the major events at the same venue and at the same time as the mens, which is obviously not feasable for cricket.

    Whilst I congratulate the team on proving themselves to be the best in the world, lets not kid ourselves that anyone is going to care about the womens game when the fuss about the World Cup dies down.

  • Comment number 23.

    mark_blues, I understand your point, of course Paula Radcliffe's achievement in winning a marathon is every bit as brilliant as a man winning a marathon, and the England women's cricket team is as good in their field of expertise as the Australian men's side.

    However I think you're missing brandyrecovery's point - he is saying that if you begin to discuss professionalism you're talking business, not just sport. And in business terms women's cricket is not comparable to men's, and probably never will be due to the inevitable lack of comparable pace and power. So there's a need to be realistic - in sporting terms the women's cricket team is an unqualified success. In business terms its still a minor story.

  • Comment number 24.

    How many times can people miss the point...

    1. Women's cricket is and probably only will ever be semi-pro the majority of the players balance work (Chance to Shine is paid community coaching and development work) and most importantly play a game they love.

    2. The International women will share the stage during the 20/20 world cup.

    3. Test cricket (men;s and women's) will continue and be funded by the fast food cricket now being served up on a regular basis to those who can't understand the finer points of test cricket.

    Ultimately this is a way to involve more people in a sport with a greater range of individual and team competition and skills be they girl's or boys.

  • Comment number 25.

    I have not been as annoyed as this for a long time - after reading comment 14.
    Skill and ability in cricket is not simply about bowling at 90mph+ or smashing huge sixes. Swing, seam and spin bowling are all skills that do not rely on speed or strength and most batting is about temperament and co-ordination rather than brute power.

    These players are incredibly talented, far more so than village leagues, although admittedly still below full county level. This is mainly due to the lack of full-time training and minimal (although excellent) coaching support. Given time and money, these will develop further.

    What has to be remembered is that the more women who play and follow the game, the more boyfriends/brothers/sons etc who play. The larger the player base (of both sexes), the more players of quality who progress through the levels, and the stronger the game is as a whole.

    Well done to the team, and long may the success continue!

  • Comment number 26.

    Congratulations to all the team! Awesome result, the country is very proud!

  • Comment number 27.

    I have to say a massive congratulations to all the girls, I was priviliged enough to be at the game on Sunday and have to say it was amazing.
    I have been to many games and I personally thought the quality was not far off the mens game, the women lacked the strength and big hitting, but technically I failed to see a big difference.

    Once again well done to all involved, you've done us proud. :)

  • Comment number 28.

    Well done. Being world champions in any sport is a fantastic achievement. However, let's not get carried away. Setting aside those liberals who support these things on principle, and those who tune in to Sky or whereever women's cricket is being shown for no other reason than to reaffirm their own predjudices, it will never be anything other than a curio, a sideshow, a warm-up act, call it what you will. Not a pc view, I know, but true nonetheless.

  • Comment number 29.

    Following from comment 28, I agree women’s professional cricket is some way off but I and my family enjoy watching all women's sport, it's just a shame there's so little on offer. In societies more equal than our own, such as Sweden, coverage is much more balanced. In fact, where golf is concerned I actually prefer to watch the ladies as it is much more relevant to a 14 handicapper like myself!

    I hope the Culture Minister is able to follow his words with actions. Why shouldn’t women and girls be able to view more female sport? It’s no wonder so few girls and women actively participate in sport beyond primary school, they need role models and to see images that sport is not just for boys and men. Without more coverage and therefore advertising opportunities nothing will ever change and professionalism will remain a dream.

  • Comment number 30.

    There are three stakeholders in sport; business, the media and supporters.

    Business will make business decisions about where they put their money and will put it where they think there is value. This decision is not sexist in the sense that it’s simply profit driven.

    Supporters will go to watch whatever they choose and can be as sexist as they like about the decision (as some of the above contributions more than ably demonstrate).

    That leaves media. There are two types of media; publicly funded and commercial. The commercial media will follow the money just like businesses. They have little or no motive to cover minority sports (other than in the case that a particular sport’s governing body dictates that as part of a men’s coverage contract they must cover some women’s sport). Publicly funded media should (and I stress ‘should’ rather than ‘is’) be different. It, one would think, has a public duty not to simply follow the money but rather excel in its coverage of sports that otherwise get ignored.

    Sadly the BBC and Radio 5 Live in particular play the same ‘game’ as other media outlets and always put football first. The ‘game’ goes as follows: Football clubs have a vested financial interest is whipping up as much fervour as possible to maximise the amount of money put into them, the media play along by trying to market football as ‘vital’ and thus increase their viewing figures or sales and the supporter funds all this. It represents one of the most successful branding exercises ever – a modern emperor’s new clothes.

    It’s a sad reflection of our media that women’s cricket and numerous other sports have little or no chance of ‘storming this citadel’. If they do end up as, to quote from a contribution above, ‘a curio, a sideshow, a warm-up act’ it won’t be because of lack of ability, lack of commitment, lack of willingness to sacrifice, lack of determination, lack of worthiness, lack of skill or even lack of success.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm afraid the comment 29 "Why shouldn?t women and girls be able to view more female sport?" misses one important point. To watch ANY cricket you need to go out and get Sky for £30 quid a month, and Sky have to make ad revenue on top of that in order to make a profit once they have paid massively for the TV rights.
    That means Sky will only show what lots of people want to watch which I'm afraid is not womens cricket at the moment.
    If cricket had remained with the BBC then maybe there would be some hope for instance to kickstart coverage of the womens game by introducing 30 mins highlights for example, and generate further interest the justification for more coverage from there.
    Still on the plus side it means that as there isn't much money in the womens game you don't get the corruption, infighting and naked commercial greed that has blighted the mens game. Don't be in too much of a hurry to get those business class seats girls they come at a price to the integrity of your game.
    Having seen a little of the womens game it looks in pretty good shape to me. OK there are slightly fewer boundaries but is cricket ONLY about that or can we think back to a pre-TwentyTwenty age (not even 15 years ago maybe) when a gloriously timed cover drive with virtually no power at all was what people went to a cricket match to see.
    Some of the players are pretty hot and maybe introducing some shirts vs skins matches would get the viewing figures up...! Only kidding girls well done on taking home the trophy and good luck for the future.
    The way the mens team is playing at the moment you may see me at some more womens matches.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello Alison

    Firstly very many congratulations on the team's performance; one hopes that the invitations from the Queen and to Downing Street are in the post.

    Secondly, and I apologise now for posting this elsewhere, do you think that the ICC's policy of having the Men's & Women's Semi-finals and Final on the same day is a good one in light of recent events?

    Admittedly the ICC wouldn't have predicted your win and the spike in interest that resulted, so one can perhaps understand the 'raising awareness' amongst the Club Ties and the more portly audience that pay and pay regularly to go watch Cricket. But, and there always is one,

    One would have thought that the yours and the ECB's desired outcome differed inasmuch as it would be to attract the next current and next generation of Women Cricketers and that leaves you and, incidentally, I in a bit of a predicament.

    My 9 year-old daughter has seen her brother takes nets and, despite encouragement, not joined in before. However; this season is a bit different as she now has tangible evidence that people she can identify with both play and plat successfully, hence the additional name on the Cricket Club membership return this year and the formation of a fledgling Girl's Cricket Team at school.

    How wonderful it would be, therefore, to take her, & just possibly some friends too, to see the mighty England, the all conquering heroines, play on home turf? She asked me if she could go at the weekend and I dutifully looked it up on ye olde internet. At this point I am secretly very pleased indeed Thing 1 (daughter) wants to go watch Cricket with Daddy. Really? Deep joy. I know that Thing 2 (son) will be up for it and even the wife is has a favourable expression. This, let me say, is unprecedented. OK on with the Family Stand Tickets before they change their minds.

    Having eventually found ticketing details hidden away in the Men's tournament site (Note to ICC - this wasn't very intuitive, pls rectify in future) we see that all qualifiers are at Somerset CC. Nothing wrong with that per se, we might have wished for them to be spread out a bit, but with only 8 teams I guess it's fair enough. Coming from Newcastle-upon-Tyne we find Taunton a bit far mid-week in School time but never mind the matches move for the later stages: Trent Bridge - not the easiest to get to by train from here but it's a lovely ground, and all of London is easily do-able in around 4 hours.

    Here's the brick-wall. The later stage tickets are bundled with the Gentlemen's matches, presumably for the guaranteed audience reasons above, yet these tickets are manna from heaven for Corporate Hopitallers and have been on sale for a year, everything being sold out as a result.

    Admittedly, I could get a Silver Adult and Silver U16 at Trent Bridge but this just happens to be on one of the two days that I cannot attend for work reasons.

    Let's just hope that the Women's matches are on the Telly and Thing 1 will sustain Thing 1's interest in that manner.

    It's not the same as I think you will agree but you cannot please all of the people all of the time or us at all it seems.

    Here's wishing you and the team all the best for the coming season.

    Nathan

 

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