sports

'Why watching women play cricket at the WBBL was the highlight of my summer.'

The opening match of the WBBL season – between the Melbourne Renegades and Sydney Thunder – wasn’t the first time I’ve been to the cricket.

My cricket-obsessed boyfriend dragged me to a men’s test match just a few years ago (the draw card was getting to wear the pink McGrath Foundation scarf as a cute neckerchief) and when the rain saw play cancelled halfway through the match, I’ll admit, I was not-so-secretly chuffed.

Life with my partner means that cricket is a permanent fixture of our lives over summer. If it’s not on the telly, cricket scores and commentary is undoubtedly blaring through the radio.

Slowly, slowly, I was coming to understand the rules, but couldn’t really bring myself to attend another match. The tests are just too long, too drawn out; it felt like nothing interesting ever happened.

That’s precisely what made my first encounter with WBBL so great.

I had no idea cricket could be so fun and interesting. It was lunchtime, and there was a real buzz around North Sydney Oval with lots of people dressed up in team gear. In between the music that played during hits, the stumps lighting up when they were hit, the fireworks, the impressive dives and catches, and the epic fours – it was unlike any sport game I’ve ever attended.

Watching Harmanpreet Kaur from the Sydney Thunder make a superb diving catch towards the end of the game is something that I won’t forget for a long time. Immediately after I couldn’t help but text my boyfriend, “WBBL is LEGIT!”

Listen: Mia Freedman is joined by sport fanatics Michelle Andrews and Gemma Garkut to unpack the rise of women’s sport, and why it’s taken so long.

It was so lovely to see so many families, couples, groups of guys and groups of girls attending the game. They weren’t there accidentally early for the men’s game – they were there to support the women’s cricket and got to enjoy a really exciting game of professional cricket.

At the end of the game, as I stood at the traffic lights outside the oval, I noticed one of the players also waiting there with her huge cricket bag. I was taken aback; I’m so used to watching national men’s teams, and you would never see them lugging their bags across the road alone immediately after the game. These women are amazing athletes, and so down-to-earth and unassuming you would never guess that they play professional cricket.

Looking back? My experience at the WBBL left me feeling really inspired and proud to be a woman.

The WBBL finals kick off on the 1st of February. To buy tickets, click here or see below:

Thursday 1 February at Optus Stadium, Perth

WBBL SF1 at 12:10pm (AWST) – Sydney Thunder vs. Perth Scorchers

Friday 2 February at Adelaide Oval

WBBL SF2 at 2:40pm (ACDT) – Sydney Sixers vs. Adelaide Strikers

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