Lydia Greenway didn’t even know there was an England team growing up. There were no broadcasts on TV, no coverage on the radio and minimal acknowledgement of its existence by the press.
Things have come a long way since then, but there is still work to be done. That’s why the former England player has launched her new initiative –– Girls Cricket Club. A platform aiming to accelerate the growth of women’s cricket around the world, through the sharing of knowledge, resources and opportunities.
Indeed, while opportunities across schools, clubs and counties are more common than ever before, Greenway emphasises that there are still “clusters of girls who feel isolated.”
Speaking to GiveMeSport Women, the 35-year-old says: “They might be the only girl, or just one of a handful of girls in a certain area playing cricket, whether it's at their club or at their school.
“So really it’s just to create a great community for people to be involved with and ultimately develop as cricket players, but also as people, because I think coming together with like-minded people can be quite a nice environment to be in.”
It’s a community that won’t just be UK based either. Greenway has assembled a board of 16 people from across the world and has plans to expand even further.
“So we've got people from Africa. We're chatting to some people from Asia as well and then obviously over in Australia, in New Zealand and, of course, in the UK. And, I think what everyone brings is just different perspectives on how girls’ cricket can be successful and also different experiences.
“We've got people from schools, organisations, people from clubs and then people who have played in World Cups and won World Cups. So, we've been very specific with who we've sort of approached and we absolutely want to add to that as well.”
It’s worth noting that amid a time when women’s cricket has faced struggles because of the coronavirus pandemic, Greenway has still found a way to get this project up and running.
There is a skills session being held via Zoom on Tuesday 1st June, with a special guest appearance from England captain Heather Knight. Obviously, this is remarkably different to normal circumstances, but the Ashes winner thinks that online coaching can actually help reach a bigger audience.
“I think the best thing about it is that you could be in Devon, you could be up in the Scottish Highlands, you could be in Europe somewhere and you can still log on and meet the current England women's captain, Heather Knight.”
Greenway’s latest project will seek to work in tandem with another of her initiatives –– Cricket for Girls. This focuses on schools and delivering taster sessions and masterclasses to young children, but also places emphasis on supporting teachers as well.
“I think it's really important that we focus on the teachers,” the former batter stresses.
”Because if the teachers are equipped and able to deliver cricket then that makes for a much more sustainable program, rather than when we're not there anymore and we go away [and] then there's no one else to take it on.”
There will be other ways to identify talented young female cricketers as well. Girls Cricket Club is launching a competition at Trent Bridge soon, in search of the game’s next great all-rounder.
With more details to follow in June, Greenway says it will follow a similar format to the NFL combine, where different skills will be put to the test across a number of exercises.
“Making it an all-round competition just allows us to encompass all of the skills from within the game as well as the athletic element to it. Because, we would love to find the girl who might never have played the game before, but she might just come in and just have the biggest throw on her, or she might be able to hit the ball further than everyone else.
“So, it’s just that opportunity to hopefully uncover some rough diamonds, but also encourage the other girls already involved to continue.”
Today’s game already has a plethora of talented all-rounders. Sophie Devine, Nat Sciver and Ellyse Perry are just some of the world-renowned names that are continuing to impress. And, while they might not know it yet, the next global superstar is out there somewhere.
For Greenway, it was her dad who helped get her into the game as a teenager. Had it not been for this, then the England centurion may never have played for her country at all. In this way, the ex-player is even more determined to offer opportunities to young girls now, and won’t stop until everyone has had the chance to discover their love for cricket.
You can check out Girls Cricket Club hereNews Now - Sport News