For those that aren’t aware, I’m a dad to three girls. To my mind, childhood is training for adulthood, and parents are the guides. Girls grow up to be women, and the world can be a pretty shitty place for women a lot of the time. So I have three main jobs:
- instilling in them self-confidence, compassion and leadership abilities, so when the time comes they’re able to determine what they want and need for themselves and for the world around them and are able to carry make a real difference;
- showing them what they can expect from the world in the most positive way I can, so that they are well-prepared for the worst but expecting the best;
- doing what I can to improve the world so that maybe when they do get their by themselves things won’t be quite so tough for them.
At around ten years in, I think we’re doing ok. They certainly have boatloads of confidence and really care about the people around them. We have plenty of solid arguments at home, but that’s good - this is their training ground. We talk a lot about what’s happening in the world and try to find little ways to make things better. It’s not perfect and never will be because there’s imperfect humans involved, but we’re making solid progress. I don’t fear for them.
For those that aren’t aware, I’m mad about cricket, and have been for just over twenty years. I have an essay in progress that I might even finish some day about why I love it and why it’s the perfect pastime for sports fans and math geeks alike. I won’t go into that now but suffice it to say I’m crazy about the game, and will watch it and read about it and talk about it whenever I can, regardless of whether it’s international cricket or just kids having a hit at the park.
My children don’t share my passion. They do come and watch televised games with me on the couch sometimes, but more to hang out with me than anything else. Still, I use the opportunity to talk to them about things in and around the games that I think might interest them.
Women’s cricket has been a thing for many many years but in the last couple of years it’s become hugely more popular in Australia, culminating in the first Women’s Big Bash League which is underway at the moment. As I said, I’ve loved cricket anywhere it’s played, and women’s cricket has been no exception. I’ve been really happy to have been able to watch more of it in recent years and in particular see how good it is technically - there seems to be a lot more emphasis on solid classic technique over power hitting, which is very refreshing.
Saturday saw a great pair of games played at the MCG, the major cricket stadium in my city of Melbourne. This was the local derby weekend, with the Melbourne Stars up against the Melbourne Renegades. First up was the women’s game, which was televised on a major TV channel for the first time. After that was the men’s game, which shattered the attendance record for a BBL game and almost any other event held at the ground.
During the day I had the women’s game on the TV, as usual, and my Miss 6 came and sat down with me. She watched for a while and then asked asked a question in a particular tone that I know means she’s thinking hard about something and the best responses are usually just the simplest ones, letting her ask her questions.
- “Are these girls playing cricket?”
- “Are both teams girls?”
- “My friend at school says that only boys can play cricket.”
- “Well, your friend is wrong. There’s some girls playing cricket right there. Anyone can play cricket if they want to.”
- “When can we go to a cricket game?”
- “How about today?”
- “Really? Can we?”
Yeah, strike while the iron is hot. I’d been thinking about going to the men’s game in the evening anyway, but that pretty much sealed the deal. Five minutes and $40 later I had tickets for me and the girls to head to the game.
They had a great. They didn’t really follow the game particularly well, though got excited when I pointed out the big hits into the crowd. The thing is, particularly for Miss 6, it’s not even about the cricket. It’s about the entire experience. She loved being in the crowd. She sang, she danced, she cheered, she pointed out anything and everything that interested her. And all the way through the evening she repeated three things:
- “I love going to the cricket!”
- “Everyone here really loves cricket!”
- “Girls and boys can play cricket.”
And she hasn’t stopped talking about it in the few days since.
So here’s one place where supporting and promoting women’s cricket has had a specific, positive effect for at least one little girl. It’s not magic pixie dust. It won’t magically fix every problem that women encounter in the world, and it won’t change the fact that my girls will struggle in life in places where perhaps they shouldn’t. My hope though is that it’s gone some way to forming a positive association in her mind - there’s a great thing in this world that everyone loves and everyone can do - including her.