Hello! It’s a beautiful June morning and England and India’s women’s sides are out stretching and hitting and chewing the fat. What a four days we’ve got in store – a chance for all 22 players to test themselves in the long-form game.
Elite cricket then but, whoops!, on a second-hand pitch – which is a niche product to try and flog in the push for equality. It was revealed yesterday that the pitch had already been played on for 39 overs in a T20 Blast game on Friday night. Where the cock-up originated, we don’t know, but there it is. Next time, do better.
Or as Heather Knight, whose services to diplomacy should be snapped up when she retires, said, “We can moan about it later – we’ve just got to play what’s in front of us, we can’t use it as a negative or an excuse or frustration.”
While the ICC have been pushing limited overs cricket for women, some of the players themselves have been pining for more red ball cricket, Katherine Brunt and Megan Schutt, for example. Test cricket for women has often been dismissed as slow and boring, and playing on a second hand pitch at Bristol, which may grow sluggish and flatten as the four days progress, isn’t going to help that perception or prove anything.
The ECB sounded contrite: “We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance, With the Test only being added to the calendar in mid-April, coupled with the lack of available first class grounds, we knew a fresh TV pitch was going to be a challenge.”
But, hang the pitch for a minute, the game is going to be a novelty for everyone involved. India haven’t played Test cricket for seven years, with only eight of their squad having red ball experience. England have squeezed in more Tests, but only against Australia, and they haven’t won in that time. The last time these two sides played each other, India won by six wickets.