KUDOS: Can you tell us a bit about how Ansty Ladies CC got started and the club’s ethos?
Ansty was one of the first clubs in the local area to establish a thriving girls section. We ran teams at U11, U13, and U15s and produced a number of county age-group players. We identified the need to provide a pathway into senior cricket for our girls or lose them to other clubs who already provided this.
So in 2012, with barely enough players to field a team, we started Ansty Ladies CC. We entered the local Indoor league in 2012, winning it, then took the massive step of entering the Women’s Cricket Southern League (WCSL) for the 2013 season. For our first ever game we had 6 cricketers, the eldest being 20, the youngest U14, ably assisted by 5 slightly less willing and enthusiastic mums! We have progressed from there, getting promoted four seasons in a row and now playing our first season in the WCSL Premier Division. The ethos for our ladies team is and always has been to include as many players as we possibly can in every game. You do not learn from standing in a field for 50 overs watching others perform! We have over the years had to firm up the batting order, but whenever we have enough bowlers in the team, we endeavour to bowl at least seven bowlers in each match. It means we lose a few games but in return we get a squad full of players who can perform when needed!
And how has the club been doing this season and last?
Last season we won our division but year by year the opposition improve and the games get harder. This season was a massive leap into the unknown. As I write this we lie 4th in a 6 team division and that is where we have finished. We have a very young talented side and all they lack is experience at this level.
Is your coaching staff all-female too?
We have 5 female Level II coaches at the club, who I help and assist. They have all played cricket at Premiership level and I think it’s crucial that the younger girls have female role models to look up to, and that all the coaches have playing experience to back up their technical knowledge.
Do you think men’s and women’s cricket should be kept separate, or do you ever see women cricketers branching out into the men’s game?
At club level we encourage our ladies to play in our men’s sides. We have had female representation in all our four mens league teams. In the summer of 2015, poor availability for the men’s side saw us put out 11 ladies players in the men’s 3rd XI in the Stoner mid-Sussex league. Our hosts (Streat and Westmeston) for the match received the team with a positive response and the match was played in a good spirit to finally end in a winning draw. Men’s cricket is not always representative to what the girls play at county level due to the speed of the fast bowlers, so it is crucial that our girls also play a good standard of competitive women’s cricket to give them the chance to progress into senior county cricket.
In a world increasingly pressed for time, some cricket clubs and leagues are struggling for enough regular and committed players. Is that an issue for Ansty?
We started with low numbers, and they, to this day, remain low. Our turnover is very low which in some way I hope and believe is due to our ethos. The players I have are very talented and committed to the team.
The England women’s cricket team recently won the World Cup in a blaze of publicity – do you think it will prove to be a catalyst for further growth in the women’s game?
I would hope that the win in the WWC17 and all the associated publicity would spark an interest in women’s cricket and help to increase numbers. Thus far I have not been inundated with enquiries from women wanting to play cricket, but I live in hope!
What does the future hold for Ansty CC?
The future is looking bright for us as a club. We will look to continue to provide the right level of cricket for our members at the right level to challenge them, and develop them as people and players. I do, however, have concerns over the decline in women and girls wanting to play club cricket. I think with all the emphasis on International cricket and the KSL we should not forget where all the players involved came from, the club structure and all the volunteers who put the effort in to produce players, then into their counties before progressing to a higher level. Without club cricket where are the stars of the future coming from?
Thanks to Dave for his time and insight into the club, and we’d like to wish all at Ansty Ladies CC the very best of luck for the rest of the season and beyond. You can find them on Facebook.
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