‘Why cricket?’ I asked Beth Morgan, ex-England cricketer and current Middlesex County cricketer when I sat down to interview her. ‘Why not football, netball or hockey?’
‘Cricket was a way of life’, Morgan replied. ‘My whole family played cricket. We love cricket and it was completely normal for us. My uncle Eddie Hemmings played professionally for England so it was very much in the family. I loved all sports but it was always going to be cricket that was my passion.’
Like many youngsters starting in the sport, Beth, now aged thirty-seven began playing cricket as a child at the age of four in her back garden, but never really saw opportunities to play outside of that. The shy youngster was reluctant to join a boys’ team to avoid the undoubted attention it would cause.
She explained how ‘my Dad went through all of the local papers and found a club with a women’s team. I was thirteen when I first attended Gunnersbury Cricket Club and that was brilliant for me as I felt like I had a place where I could belong and fit in.’
Beth has remained at the same club Gunnersbury, which then merged with Finchley, for twenty-five years. She has also represented Middlesex Women’s County Cricket Team for twenty- two years, becoming the only player to feature in every single season of the Women’s County Championships; from 1997 until 2019.
It is fair to say that women’s cricket has changed in those twenty-two years.
‘The game has moved on so much. When I think back to when I first started, it was almost completely run by volunteers, amazing people who gave up so much time so that we could all play county cricket. Over the years, more funding and more resources have been put into the game which means the standards of cricket are getting increasingly better. Also, the level of professionalism and commitment that the players can put in now is improving. There is a whole season programme now, a whole off-season programme and the players can dedicate themselves to it. It’s unrecognisable and it’s a huge thanks to all of the people that gave up so much time to get to the game to where it is now. It’s just growing from strength to strength every single season.’
When I asked Beth what she would describe as the highlight of her career, her hesitation showed it was not an easy answer.
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‘It’s a tough one as there are so many highlights. But for me, to have had the chance to play in world cups and to win two world cups with England is an absolute dream come true. But throughout my career both with my club and also my county Middlesex and with England, I think it’s the players that you get to play alongside that are the real highlights for me. You make so many friends and get the chance to play alongside so many fantastic people’.
Even after twenty-five years of playing cricket and twenty-two years of representing her county Middlesex, I had to ask the inevitable question, ‘how many more years do you have left?’
‘It’s tough to say at the moment. I’m just taking it one year at a time as it does take me a lot longer to recover than it used to. I’ve got a lot more niggles now and Monday mornings aren’t too much fun. The body gets a bit older and bit more tired but right now, I’m still really loving playing and enjoying it. My decision to keep playing comes down to if I feel I’m still contributing and still feel I have something to add. I take each game and each season as it comes and we will see what happens.’
Beth sounded positive and optimistic when I asked what her thoughts were on the future of women’s cricket.
‘The awareness and promotion around the game via the media are growing all of the time. If someone had said that there is going to be domestic, professional cricket in England during my career, I would have never believed it. For that to have happened and to be improving all of the time leaves me with no doubt that the game is growing and will continue to grow, standards of play will continue to improve so I am excited to see what will happen in the next few years with women’s cricket.’
After a remarkable career in cricket, it’s easy to see why this once shy thirteen-year-old who joined her local club, has made such a massive contribution to the game she loves. She continues to inspire the next generation of cricketers through her enthusiasm and passion for the game.News Now - Sport News