Informal sessions engage women

“I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is cricket – I’m the obsessed one in my family!” Not the words of a teenager, but mother-of-three Lesley Brown, 60 this October.

Lesley thinks she may have made history at her club, Harrow St Mary’s, when a few years ago she was the first woman, in its 130 years of history, to play league cricket for the club after turning out for the Middlesex-based 3rd X1 side.

What is beyond dispute is the club secretary’s sterling – and innovative – efforts to get women and girls into the game. After finally giving up on attempts to establish a thriving girls’ section – partly because those they had preferred to join a girls-only club instead and there weren’t enough female siblings about, Lesley – who is also a coach – and another female coach, Sadhna Patel, decided to get the mums involved.

“It started last season,” she explains. “There was a group of under 10s and 11s training on Tuesday nights and the mums were standing around chatting and we persuaded them to give it a go as it was good exercise.

“So we started off with four last year, and now we have at least 12. This year their age group moved up to a Friday evening, so as most of our other age groups train on a Friday evening, it’s now also become a social thing.” Then as each age group moves up we aim to get more mums involved.

Harrow St. Mary’s Mums’ Club made good use of the Waitrose-sponsored Club Open Day by staging a ‘Gr8 Evening’ in July – eight-a-side games of eight overs each, attracting more than 60 as families were pitted against each other. “Lots of mums had a go,” she says. “They’d been training and doing all these little drills and things.”

It highlights how willpower can achieve results, with the group now looking to extend their sessions out of season, if only to get together. The attraction for Lesley is simple. “You get into the social side of it and make life-long friends as well,” she says.