Em's View From The Pavilion

Blog about all things cricket, including the high's & low's of supporting Warwickshire, following England around the country, along with plenty of appreciation for an Ian Bell cover drive.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Is The ECB Hindering Women’s Participation In Cricket?

 In 2017, England Women’s Cricket Team came away triumphant from the World Cup, grasping the trophy and inspiring thousands of girls along the way, by showing how incredible the game of cricket is and how girls all over the world can get involved. Recently, the ECB have introduced a ‘’Women’s Soft Ball Cricket Festival’’ in a hope to encourage more girls to take part; however, it has come under scrutiny from many women as it potentially comes across patronising. Do we need a soft ball to play with? Or is that we are incapable of understanding the rules? Is the aim to attract women, or to utterly belittle us?

The women winning the World Cup was an amazing advert for cricket, inspiring a nation and bringing together fans all across the country. It showed an immense display of positivity around not just women’s cricket, but women’s sport in general. Fans which included thousands of girls were gripped by the fantastic games and the chance of England winning. There is no doubt that it improved participation in cricket from girls, and inspired many girls to now go get into sport, and that they can do something just as well as anyone else can, or even go one further than any male teams have as England showed. There was a buzz around women’s cricket for a period of time after that final, it was being spoken about more than ever in my opinion, and I heard people discussing it around me, which left me feeling so proud of that team and the idea women’s sport was getting recognition that it needs. Throughout that time, girls really did run the world.

However, since that incredible spectacle, it seems that we are just going round in circles with women’s participation in cricket. The introduction of the soft ball tournament struck home that they don’t believe women enjoy the game as it is, which was further portrayed when the new proposed format ‘The Hundred’ was advertised to be attracted to women, especially mums. This suggesting that we currently cannot understand the game, and that we need a new format to help us be attracted to cricket. Personally, I have ample ability to understand the various formats of cricket, and what the ECB branded as ‘’baffling rules’ during their advertisement of the soft ball tournament. It is not beyond the capability of women to watch, and enjoy a cricket game. This negative marketing of cricket for girls and women watching cricket makes you realise that the people in charge of the game have such little faith in women in cricket, after everything our very own women’s team did, it seems to be being undone fairly quickly. The inspiration so many girls felt, has been took away as they now feel they have to take part in a simplified game for them to take part.

Throughout the world cup that our women won, 50% of ticket sales were to females, showing the interest for the game is there, but somehow the ECB have managed to patronise most of that audience by implying that they can’t understand, or participate in the usual rules of cricket or focus on a format which is in fact only 20 balls less than a current format. The England women’s team did not need a soft ball, less balls, a new set of rules to go out and win a world cup so why do others girls? It feels like it is one big circle, of positivity around women’s sport, inspirations and participation all increasing, but then gets brought back down by the thoughts that women have limited interest or ability in a sport that I know so many women love, and certainly have no problem understanding, even after a few cocktails! There is plenty of other ways to get women and girls into cricket, its been shown by the ‘All Stars’ campaign that plenty of girls have shown their interest into the game from grassroot clubs and that this is also on the rise with more and more signing up to the programme.

The issue also with the current situation the ECB believe to be that not many families are choosing cricket as an activity to take their children to, therefore explaining that they believe they need a new format to appeal to these families, and in particular mums. The new format is not going to all of a sudden turn mum’s ideas about cricket around, cricket and counties need to ensure that they produce a spectacle that is for a family. It is not the format that is limiting the potential of our current formats, it just needs a little attention in the family friendly department. Counties are putting all their efforts into making a cricket match a family activity with kids zones, family stands or activities and there is no reason this cannot attract the desired audience. Mothers aren’t thinking of how many balls an over there is, if they will get hit with a ball, or if they wont be able to understand it, they are thinking about giving their children the best fun possible, and getting value for money. Mothers can be just as much of part of the cricket audience as anyone else, if its done the right way.

Participation in women’s sport is on the rise certainly, however after our girls achieved the biggest triumph in cricket and gave inspiration to so many girls it seems that it is almost being washed away. Even though girls are enjoying cricket up and down the country, and women can sit and watch 5 days of a test match and understand it fully, the ECB still feels that we need a simplified version of the game with less risk to be hurt in to be attracted to it. Soon they may realise that if they just showed a little bit more faith in the female audience, it may solve their supposed problem…

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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

My Views On 'The Hundred'

The ECB chairman has now announced that the newly introduced format of 'The Hundred' is set in stone, so its here to stay. In 2020, a new franchise tournament will grace England & Wales in which 8 teams will compete in the 100-ball format, and the ECB hoping it would attract a new audience, and there lies the problem I believe. 

The tournament was presented in a way that it was portrayed the focus was to simplify cricket, and its existing formats to women, and especially mum's can understand the game, and then to attract the younger generation to the game as well. Firstly, myself being a woman, can confirm I don't need a new tournament to help me understand cricket, along with many other women I know we manage it just fine! Plus, just because you have delivered a human, does not automatically make you incapable of understanding sport. This idea did not go down well at all, I certainly was outraged that the people in charge of the sport I love thought that I was not able to understand it, or would lack interest in it purely because i'm female, when I think there is plenty of women out there that show they have the same passion for cricket. 

In terms of attracting the younger generation, it is to some extent true that children these days are not as attracted to the wonderful game as they once were, such as before the Ashes 2005. However, there is 50,000 children signed up to the (very good, ECB I will give you some credit) 'All Stars' programme, proving the interest of children is there and that they do love the game. Personally, I believe children do have an interest in the game, I can't walk around Edgbaston without getting hit with a plastic cricket ball or being shouted 'heads!', kids absolutely love that. Some counties also do a fantastic job at attracting the younger audience, and ensuring its a family friendly environment with various activities for children and a family can enjoy a day out without breaking the bank. There is plenty of ways as well that you can attract to children, without having to invent a new format! If the Big Bash can seem to come up with ways to sell out their stadiums with the T20 format, there is no reason we can't do the same. 

It is a sad state of affairs when the current body of people in charge of cricket have little faith in the sport that so many people love with so much passion for that they feel they have to invent something new to attract to this new audience. Issues from this may arise, it may alienate the current millions of people loving cricket as it makes them feel that their support is not good enough and this new audience is now a priority. But what about us? Why sell the sport to people who currently don't enjoy it or watch it, when they have millions out there who are willing to give so much already to the sport. In my opinion, its all good and well trying to attract a new audience, and especially the younger generation to cricket, the more the merrier, but it doesn't need a new format to do this. 

Opinions came in thick and fast when this new format was announced, and it seemed to follow a pattern, T20 can do all the stuff they are promising this new format will. Invest in the wonderful tournament which we already have, 'Vitality Blast' which provides some magnificent entertainment. This tournament does have the potential to challenge the best in the world, it just needs someone to have a little faith in it and tweek it a little. This first has to come from cricket being accessible to all, which is potentially the underlying problem. It's not the fact that people don't enjoy the game, or that this new audience will need a shorter format to understand it, it may be that they aren't able to access the game. A Sky Sports membership costs a fair bit, tickets also can be pricey (many counties do their best to limit this for families) and the rise of phones and social media now means cricket has to be available on those as well. Bringing cricket back to terrestrial TV would be a great start, giving the opportunity for everyone to watch and witness what an incredible sport it can be, which will ultimately attract people along. People need an insight into the game, the atmosphere and the fun, not something to show they need it simplifying, potentially patronizing many people in the process. 

There is no doubt that there is some curiosity circling around the circuit, fans will be eager to see how the tournament fairs, how the proposed 10 ball over comes into play and ultimately the reaction from the 'new audience', if it will it make any considerable difference. But the question still remains of its really needed, do we need a new format to attract a new audience or are people being blind to other ways of attracting people? 

It has been hard for all cricket fans to see the people in charge of cricket say that the current tournament so many enjoy is mediocre and that their support may not be enough, but mostly that those people don't have the faith or love of cricket in the same way so many fans do. The Hundred will provide a new spectacle certainly, but its quite ironic that their aim is to attract a new audience by giving them a shorter game to understand, when in fact adding a new format is complicating the game further, logic of England Cricket never fails to amaze me. Let's see what 2020 brings, which is of course when I will supposedly understand cricket?

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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Ones To Watch In 2018 County Championship

With the County Championship beginning in just 48 days (can it hurry up already?!) I thought it would be good to look at some players who it might be worth keeping an eye on throughout the season. All of them could be very successful after all showing positive and promising signs last season, and with youth on the side, they will be giving every game their all for their counties.

Liam Banks 

At just 18, he made his debut in the county championship last season in September against Yorkshire when he opened the batting. He may not have scored a large amounts of runs but he seemed to take to opening well, which then lead to him getting a call up for the U19 World Cup. In that tournament he originally was in the middle order, but moving up the order to opening was where he made the best impression. He made a century (120) against Canada and some other scores of 50+ to make vital contributions for the team, but he showed he was a great player and had a good technique. If he can work his way into the first team for Warwickshire, then could get plenty of runs for them and help in their search for promotion. He is playing club cricket for Tamworth CC in the summer as well, aiming to get as much cricket under his belt as he can. Whether it be this season, or in future seasons, I think Banks could become a solid player for Warwickshire and step up when needed, especially with senior batsmen Bell and Trott soon to retiring possibly, he could fill that space.

Dan Lawrence

A batsmen for Essex, reigning champions and at 20 years old he has showed how much of a great player he is. He became the third youngest batsman to make a Championship century when he struck 161 for Essex against Surrey at The Oval in April 2015 at the age of 17 years and 290 days. It was only his second first-class game. Averaging 41 in the 2017 season, he sure proved himself and earned an England Lions call up and is currently playing in the Caribbean. There is no doubt that he was a great help in Essex’s winning season, and he will be hoping to replicate and improve on him performances to help them search for the silverware again. As a middle order batsmen at Essex there is a wealth of talent to help him grow, and keep striving and putting in those big scores.

Henry Brookes

A fast bowler who has come through the age groups at Warwickshire, and has certainly impressed a lot of people there including players, staff and members. He has been branded as potential talent numerous times through the ranks and academy at Warwickshire, and he managed to get into the first team at the back end of last season when he made his debut in September in the game against Essex. Through the winter he has battled a stress fracture but is now back fit and is training with the first team bowling unit and getting dug into pre-season. His injury meant he unfortunately missed out on the U19 world cup, but he played some games in the summer for the U19 and seemed to be  impressive then so another good season for Warwickshire looms hopefully and more joy for him in in terms of England as he may set his sights on England Lions He may a key bowler coming through the age groups and flourish into a great, reliable bowler to be next to the senior bowlers. He seems to have done all he can to impress Warwickshire with Ashley Giles claiming he is a ‘’potential superstar once he realises how long his arms and legs are’’ and Pop Welch, bowling coach also speaking highly of him with a plethora of praise.

George Garton 

A left arm bowler who has showed a lot of promise in the past 2 seasons after making his debut in the early games of the 2016 season. Last season his major breakthrough came when he was added to the England Ashes squad for Australia to act as cover for Jake Ball. He must have impressed those selectors so will be one to look out for when playing for Sussex, and could be in the eye of the selectors as a possible end to their hunt for a promising left arm seamer who is of test standard. Garton will be giving his all to keep impressing selectors and get some good results for Sussex. 

Richard Gleeson

Playing for Northamptonshire in all 3 formats, Gleeson is a right arm seam bowler who could be a key player for Northants this season in the County Champ. At the end of the 2016 season he won a 3 year contract after showing very promising signs, so has plenty of potential to show his skills for Northants.  He has also been called up for the England Lions currently touring in the Caribbean as an injury replacement for George Garton, so both players are on England’s radar it seems and have impressed, his two 5fer’s at the back end of last season have definitely helped his case. 

These are just a small selection of the young players hoping to make their mark in the season and do all they can to get their team as champions or promoted. Only 48 days to wait...

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Friday, 12 January 2018

The Positives Coming Out Of The Ashes Down Under

Lets be honest here, there wasn't much to shout about after the recent Ashes series as Australia outplayed us in all departments I believe, but there was a select few positives to come out the 5 tests. Rather than discuss all the negatives and suggestions for the future which have been flying around, I decided to stick to talking about those positives. 

Firstly there was Dawid Malan, who showed a lot of strength, determination and the idea that he could be one hell of a test player throughout the series in my opinion. He stuck in when needed to, but flourished with the bat when he found the opportunity to. His temperament looks ideal for test cricket, and he displayed a class performance, especially with his maiden test century coming in the 3rd test in Perth. He sent a message back to the Australian bowlers that England certainly were not down and out and still willing to fight, it's just a shame that some of the others didn't follow his lead. He certainly nailed down his spot at No.5, and showed a lot of promise.. 

Next is Alastair Cook, or Cooky, finding the form we all know he had in a magnificent way. I would scroll through twitter and see people calling for his retirement, saying he is past his best or that he is not coping without captaincy, and I thought that was a whole load of rubbish. Then he went a proved everyone wrong by scoring 244* in the 4th test in Melbourne. He fought through a difficult period for him out in the middle through the first few tests, as he has done numerous times before in his career and came out on the other side once again. The phrase, form is temporary but class is permanent really does apply to Cooky. He is one of the best players in the world, and 12,000 test runs shows just that. 

Another thing which all England fans will agree is one of the best things about every away tour, but especially down under is The Barmy Army. Through thick and thin they support the team and sing a little louder as each test goes by. Their support really is incredible and you can tell how much it means to all the players, Joe Root singing along shows how much they cherish the support as well. Seeing so many of them out there makes me proud to be an England fan, knowing we offer the best support! One of my dreams is to go on tour with them, and it just looks an absolute blast. They are an amazing group of people who deserve so much praise for the their support, but also the way they go about it. They are the unsung heroes of The Ashes!

I may be on my own in this one, but I did enjoy Michael Vaughan on BT commentary as I thought he offered a great insight into the game and even though he copped quite a lot of stick for being negative, you wont see him doing it for the fun of it, there wasn't a lot to be positive about! He is England's biggest cheerleader when they are doing well, and he celebrated the small victories for England but offered great commentary with an insight into the game. I shall add Alison Mitchell into this as well, I think she has also been brilliant! Nice to see a woman on there as well, and she has never actually played cricket (like me), just has a sheer passion for the game (like me) and also studied geography (like me)...hope for me to be a pundit for an Ashes series! 

I also thought Craig Overton really emerged, he took his chance to play with both hands but was unlucky yo be sidelined with  cracked rib but before that he showed promising signs. He offered something a little different which was what was desired, and also bowled really well in partnership with Woaksey, plus from his 41 runs in the 1st test showed he does offer something with the bat. He is one to watch for the future I think with hopefully more opportunities, and getting Steve Smith has your maiden test wicket cant be all bad!

Admittedly, there wasn't many positives to talk about, but I get told a lot I am quite optimistic when it comes to cricket hopes so thought I'd focus on the good things rather than the numerous failings! 
Here is to 2019, where the urn will return home and it will be England's!

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A look ahead at Warwickshire's 2018 season

After the 2017 season proving to be quite disappointing in some ways for Warwickshire with us facing relegation, but then also some great things to shout about such as reaching the final of the T20 Blast, it's now time to look ahead to the 2018 season with new fixtures, a new captain, and a new division. 

Firstly, I'm sure that most Warwickshire fans will be with me and say that its amazing news to hear that the wonderful Jeetan Patel (sings Jeets chant to myself...thanks Tom & Alex) has been appointed as Club Captain for County Championship team and One Day Cup team. He is no doubt one of our best players, and this is shown through the various awards he has won including 2017's Players Player Of The Season, which was thoroughly deserved, so the appointment is welcome news. He is going to make a great captain by setting a great example to the lads and he has years of experience to back him up, as well as playing with his heart and soul for the bears. As well as his constant motivation to the other guys on the field, you can tell that playing means so much to him and winning is his aim, as his voice is always the one heard most clearly at the back of the members area. He might be our overseas player, but he is certainly a true bear, who I know will put everything into getting us back where we need to be...Div 1 champions! In addition, its great news to hear that Grant Elliot is returning as the T20 captain. Last season, he got the lads playing some more fresh, exciting cricket posting bigger scores and helping with the bowling as well which enabled us to reach Finals Day. I am so glad he is coming back to try and get revenge this season and challenge for the silverware again, as you can tell he wants to do so well for the bears and is a fantastic overseas player. Another good appointment in the captaincy department is Dom Sibley as vice captain, which is a good attempt to hope to get leaders in the team coming through and during this transition period to engage the younger lads in leadership so we aren't searching for a captain in the coming seasons. Dom will learn a lot from watching Jeets and the other senior players, so in a few seasons he can be the captain to help us win more trophies. I cant wait to see the captains in action next season.

Fixture announcements have come out for next season and all in all the season looks a jam-packed one, but that makes it all the more exciting. The county championship fixtures were what I quickly scrolled to first, to see what days I can get away from revision to sit freezing cold at Edgbaston. It is slightly disappointing to see that they seem to have been pushed to the start of the season, where its just about out of winter, or end of the season where its basically autumn, but there is a few games in the height of summer which is good news, however not many at weekends which is sad news. The away fixtures also look very good, I am particularly excited for an away trip to Kent so I can go see my best friend Lettie as we have waited a long time for a Warwickshire V Kent game, as well it sounds like it possibly could be the Tunbridge Wells festival week so that should be a great away day at a wonderful little ground. Plus the Middlesex away being in the warmer days of the season and after exams also looks a good away day, as well as Glamorgan. I am definately looking forward to watching some proper cricket and keeping everything crossed that there is a free cake on the 1st of each champ game at Egbaston...

The One-Day Cup fixtures have also been released, which look a good bunch as well. Played throughout May & June it does make it slightly difficult to fit these in whilst I am meant to be buckling down and revising for exam season in June, but the fixtures look solid nevertheless. There is a Warwickshire V Worcestshire game in there as well at home which will be a good derby and one I'm sure we will come out on top in. One silver lining is that the final day is at the end of June, so not only is it warm (can you tell I don't like the cold) I also happen to have booked that week off work, so if Warwickshire could repeat their 2016 campaign and make it all the way to Lords and win that would be fabulous, lets make it happen! I think we can really challenge for this title this season, with new, young talent such as Ed Pollock and Aaron Thomason breaking into the T20 team I am hoping they can do the same in the 50 over team and play alongside the senior players who will also step up, and I believe we have one very talented batsmen in Sam Hain who will boss the competition once again. 

The fixture list that most people get most excited for is the T20 Blast list, and most eyes turn straight to the Bears V Pears derby, and the date is already in my diary! The games lined up look like amazing fixtures, with us starting our campaign away to Notts at Trent Bridge, which I hope to attend with a large bears following there and a repeat of the final, but not a repeat of the result! Then our first home game agasint Yorkshire Vikings, and continuing the home games with plenty of Friday nights lined up at edgbaston with the best atmosphere in cricket I think, along with sun-soaked Sunday afternoons watching the game. The introduction of midweek games to our home fixture list will also be a interesting one, and I'm sure the atmosphere will be just as good as a Friday night, as no school the next day for me! What a way to finish the home season as well with the clash with Worcestershire which last year brought in a record home crowd at Edgbaston, so that is going to be one hell of a game and night. The fact we also have a double header game with the KSL on our game against Lancashire Lighting, when Loughborough Lighting will take on Western Storm is a great prospect as well to add to the season. With Grant back as captain, and the signs of the cricket we saw last season with the talent shining through I think our chances are right up there for the title in 2018, bring it on! T20 Blast season is always an exciting time for the club with lost of exciting things happening on and off the pitch including the talent from the guys and the atmosphere off the pitch, and perhaps this season we can have a kids zone for adults? 

In 2018, our county championship title race will this season be in division 2 which is obviously not where we wanted to be at all, but its something to embrace and try and see the positive side of. It means that we can go through the transition period and build up a solid team with a mix of experience and young talent and build up through the season, and also through the divisions. It also gives us new opposition, and with that comes new grounds to visit, so the away days will be a good prospect as well. Kent was one I looked forward to as I've said, but also Leicestershire & Sussex are great ones as I love those grounds, and Middlesex away will be a good spectacle. Division 2 is certainly not going to be easy with some very good teams who have some very good players all fighting for promotion but I am confident we can put up a good fight and challenge to get back up to Division 1.

The 2018 season does boast plenty of things to look forward to all in all, perhaps not for the lads as much who aren't getting an abroad pre-season trip, instead are heading off to the car park to get the practice in a marquee. However, the return of cricket is always an exciting time, giving  a chance for us to build a good solid squad with a mix of young talent that are all ready to prove themselves with the experienced/senior guys stepping up in county game, and 50-over games. Plus, hoping the exciting cricket played by our T20 squad makes next T20 campaign a entertaining one and fingers crossed a winning one. It will also be good to catch up with all the members at the beginning of the season, and at the members events which I hope will be returning as they were a good laugh, especially in the pub quiz where we all definitely saw each others competitive side. Of course, I am also hoping for some sun!! Next season looks like it's going to be a good one, can it hurry up please. 

Here's to hoping Warwickshire can pull of one hell of a season next year!
Youuuuu Bearsssssss!!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

2017 Cricket Season

Every year I hear people talking about whether summer or winter is their favourite season, and I only have one answer, my favorite season is by far cricket season. From April through to September, my life revolves around fitting in going to any games I can around revision and work and spending many sunny afternoons or Friday nights at the cricket, either cheering on or moaning about my teams, definitely more of the latter this season. 2017 cricket season was a fabulous one with some new grounds visited and some amazing play witnessed... 

Firstly, I spend a large percentage of my cricket season supporting my home county, Warwickshire and this season, that hasn't been easy at some points. The county championship this year on my occasions proved painful to watch with loss after loss and that ended with us being relegated into Division 2, with serious improvements needed next season. This also was made no better by the numerous cold, and windy days in April where I went and froze at Edgbaston just to see our batting collapse. All I can say is, thank god for Jonathon Trott. After last year beating Surrey to become One Day Champions, we went into the RLODC  with a great win over Northants in out first game, however thats where the wins started and ended with us not managing to qualify for the quarters, meaning our title defence was over.

However, there was much more to shout about in our T20 campaign, where we made it all the way to the final! Many friday nights were spent cheering on our fresh and new look t20 team, with plenty of bursting talent such as Ed Pollock and Aaron Thomason, the team was playing some exciting and great cricket...finally! We got through the quarters final which was a tough contest from Surrey at The Oval, a game I had to unfortunately watch in a bar in Lanzarote while hearing how amazing it was from friends who were there, and we had reached Finals day, which after the season we had in other tournaments was a great thing to cheer about! Unfortunately losing to Notts in the final meant we missed out on the silverware, but we will be back next year to take it just like we did in 2014. Supporting Warwickshire this season has undoubtedly had its lows such as the low first innings totals, the freezing cold days, the lack of Ian Bell runs and relegation but on the plus side they offered free cake on the first day of each championship game so I am not complaining too much.

When I wasn't at a Warwickshire game, I was watching England in their international games, and first of this summer for me was the Champions Trophy game which provided a welcome day off work & revision. England Vs Australia, a full house at Edgbaston, a whole stadium displaying their dislike to the Aussies, what more could you want! The atmosphere at this game is up there with one of the best I have been involved in, as the Aussies continued to lose wickets, the fans continued to wave them off the pitch. Then came a magnificent Stokesy century before the rain came, but England had won! Beating the Aussies and knocking them out the tournament while we progressed equals a good day at the office!

A spontaneous cricket trip is always welcome as well, when it was decided to buy tickets for Day 4 of England Vs South Africa at Trent Bridge, I was completely up for this. The cricket was slightly disappointing as England had to bat out Day 4 & 5 to get a draw, but they only managed to just before tea on Day 4 and were bowled for 133. At least the sun was shining and it was the only day of cricket this year I managed to wear a skirt at without being cold and changing into jeans...so it was worth it! 

Through visiting various grounds this season I went down to visit one of my best friends, Lettie, who is a Kent supporter and we were going to The Oval test match together and she offered to show me Canterbury Cricket Ground, so of course I said yes. We took a trip to watch Kent Vs Somerset, and saw a Kent win, which apparently at the time was a rarity, much like Warwickshire so I would like to class myself as a Good Luck charm in the hope of going back. Canterbury is a lovely, sweet ground, and it made a nice change from a stadium to be able sit and watch the game from a grass bank, and Kent offered a free cider with every ticket, so that was an added bonus! 

In the trip to Lettie, we also went to The Oval to watch Day 2 of the England Vs South Africa test match, where we witnessed another amazing Stokesy century to dig England out of trouble, for the millionth time. I also met Joe Root at this game, and if you know me well, you'll know this did make my day when he was his always lovely self. This test was Toby Roland-Jones' debut test match as well, a massive occasion for him which he lived up to by taking a 5fer, of which we saw 4 of these wickets to have South Africa on the ropes! The Stokes innings and bowling performance from TRJ made this one hell of a day test cricket and was great to tick another new ground off this season, I would highly recommend a visit to The Oval as its a fab ground with some very funny stewards who provided plenty of entertainment at the lunch & tea intervals. 

My final England game of the summer was the First Day/Night Test Match in England, at my favourite ground of them all, Edgbaston. I was very excited for Edgbaston to be putting on this test match and was also excited to see the prospect of D/N test cricket in England. The verdict is, its bloody cold! It may work in Aus, but in England where we had to have a blanket over us, I am not so sure. Nevertheless, as we turned up and lighting was striking, I wasn't sure how much cricket we would actually see, but the sun came out and that allowed us to see one hell of an innings from Cooky, who scored 243, batted Chef! The rain however began to fall again and the actual night part of the test was rained off for that Day. There was nothing like a day of Test cricket to help get over the trauma of A-level results day which didn't go as planned. Cricket is always my go to when you need something to take your mind of something. The innings from Cooky was one of the best all season I have seen, an absolute masterclass from an absolute legend.

I always say one of the best things about cricket is the people you meet through it, and this cricket season I met some pretty hilarious and lovely people, as well as spending time with the long loved besties, who were always up for a drink or cocktail at the cricket! Meeting people through cricket is one of my favorite things as the people love the same thing you do, and getting to know them is brilliant as well. 

To celebrate the end of the season, we fancied a night at the Warwickshire End Of Season Dinner, to celebrate success, not that there was much but the free bar all night wasn't going to be passed up! I cant think of a better way to end the season than downing jagerbombs with the Warwickshire Lads, taking full advantage of the free bar! Thank you Warwickshire for filling the hefty bar tab, worth every penny of my membership...and thanks for the memories of the season. 

Cricket season 2017, you were a good one.
Until 2018...

Sunday, 12 March 2017


Take me home country roads...

Okay enough of the Irish music that is still circling my head after my visit to the Irish capital of Dublin. In February half term me and my friend Leah took a mini break to Dublin to celebrate my 18th, we thought where else to celebrate than the place with some of the liveliest nightlife! We had the most amazing time there with plenty of laughs, stories, memories and a few pints of Guinness to wash it all down...

We flew out of the Monday from Birmingham and I was so excited for my first taste of Ireland and especially Dublin for a birthday celebration. Once we landed in Dublin airport, I instantly felt like I was in heaven... because of the accent. Oh my god, its everywhere, and its perfection. People everywhere were speaking and I must have looked a moron just starring and listening...oops. Once we arrived in the city centre and found our Hotel, The Arlington Hotel which overlooked the river I began to relax and fell in love with the hustle and bustle of Dublin. After stocking up on the essentials from the supermarket...chocolate, crisps, alcohol...(like I said the essentials) we took a trip to visit the absolutely stunning Trinity College Dublin which is maybe the prettiest University I have ever seen. I wish to go to University of Birmingham which I thought was lovely, but this takes that to another level. Exploring the university made me want to be a student there so badly and seeing the beautiful cricket pitch and surroundings made me want to go even more! We then went on the hunt to find somewhere to eat and it didn't take us long to find a Nandos so that we were sorted. Temple Bar district wasn't very far away so we went for a couple of drinks around here, and the area is beautiful at night, with light hanging from bar to bar, the Irish music coming through from the various bars and the atmosphere filling the streets, it just gave me another reason to love this place. 

As Leah had been to Dublin before she had a few places that she wanted to visit and after describing the most lovely restaurant, I was 100% up for a full Irish breakfast, which didn't disappoint that's for sure! We went to a restaurant called Sophie's which had some beautiful decor, with rose gold bar taps (this makes me very happy as I am obsessed with rose gold everything) and the rooftop 360 degree views of Dublin, plus one of the nicest breakfast that I have ever tasted. More exploring led us to Grafton Street, where there is a plethora of High Street shops mixed with some more high end shops which we were more than happy to browse around - The Dublin Disney Store is one of the best I have been into and their take on Selfridges is just perfection. To be a full tourist, a trip to Dublin wouldn't be complete without a trip the Guinness Storehouse. I can now proudly say that I am fully qualified in pouring the perfect pint of Guinness now after some very technical lessons in the Guinness academy. The tour of the brewing and history of Guinness is actually really interesting but the highlight is the Skyline Gravity Bar which boasts mile views of Dublin and also plays the best music...I was very content sitting with my pint and listening to the Westlife they were playing. At night we went to see the hilarious Jack Whitehall at the 3arena in the Point Harbor  but first took a trip to The Oval Bar, I couldn't not go in the pub named after the cricket ground! Jack was absolutely amazing, he reduced me to tears with his stand up and him slagging of Brexit to the Irish made it all the more hilarious. 

The Wednesday we visited the Leprechaun museum which was interesting to say the least...I thought it was a tour of little things leprechaun size but instead its a storytelling tour about legends & fairies, but the big chairs were great nevertheless, once I had managed to get up the thing, I have to admit it was not my finest hour trying to push myself up. As we were close to the Jervis Shopping Centre, we managed to squeeze in some time for some retail therapy - had to experience the Irish Primarks, Penny's which is just the exact same as Primark here, but oh well. Again we experienced the amazing Dublin nightlife Wednesday when meeting up with some of Leah's friends and I was completely allured once again by the charm of the bars, pubs, food, people and music. The nicest strawberry daiquiri graced our table and the loveliest Irish singers graced the stage in our hotel bar, where we laughed and sung until the early hours of the morning.  After Leah had got them to embarrassingly to sing happy birthday to me they played some of my favourite songs and my Dublin holiday was made by hearing Country Roads. This has got to be one of the things I love about the city, the sound of all the music playing from all the bars with so many musicians loving what they do and love seeing people enjoying themselves, the culture over there is quite frankly exceptional with everyone so friendly and welcoming and their idea of just being up for a good time. As we headed to bed, after guiding Leah back to the room and to her dismay, stopping her skipping down the hotel corridors singing I'll Tell Me Ma, we heard that Storm Doris was on its way so to expect delays tomorrow flying home...and delays is what we got. 

After seeing cancelled flight after cancelled flight in the morning as we both were constantly checking our flight to get home I was just glad to see that our flight was on time and boarding. Priorities were noted and we headed to get some food first and as we queued to board and after being given many updates from home via mum she told me many flights trying to land in Birmingham had to be diverted because it was too windy (Mum knows how to calm down her daughter who she knows is a nervous flyer before taking off into a storm doesn't she). Safe to say the flight wast the smoothest I have ever been on...after the most turbulent flight, with the plane being thrown around in the wind and 2 failed landing attempts in Birmingham we found ourselves on the way to Bristol airport. Guys, when a airline says ''sourcing coaches'' don't believe them, 5 hours later. these coaches were eventually sourced and after the 4 hour journey back to Birmingham Airport, I was very glad to be back in my dads car. although I don't think he enjoyed his 2 hour wait at the station...blame Doris dad! So 11 hours later than planned I was home, with a story to tell, plenty of amazing memories, a new city ticked off, the urge to travel more and one hell of an 18th celebration to remember. 

Dublin was an amazing city to visit, and its somewhere once you have visited once you want to go back to again and again to experience the atmosphere, attractions and of course the nightlife. Its Irish charm shines throughout the streets and comes from every corner of the city. The Irish hospitality certainly didn't disappoint either with the accent being one of many highlights and the people's welcoming charm it was hard not to fall in love with the city, and not even Storm Doris could ruin it. 

Until next time Dublin...