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Ashes thriller shows England Women deserve more matches at Lord’s

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England Women deserve to have played at Lord’s a lot more than they have.

The fans also deserve it, given their unwavering support from start to finish in their thrilling five-wicket T20 win against reigning world champions Australia to keep the Ashes alive.

It is a travesty that the side have only taken part in two matches (including today’s fixture against Australia) at the so-called home of cricket since their famous win against India in the World Cup final in 2017.

To make matters worse, Australia Women have not played prestigious ground since 2013, in a period where the side has won four out of five T20 World Cups, and two out of three 50-over titles. They made the long-awaited trip to the ground knowing a win would be enough to see them retain The Ashes for the fifth consecutive series.

There was excitement throughout the London air about the upcoming clash, which was undeniably influenced by Wednesday night events at The Oval, where England condemned Australia to their first white-ball defeat (excluding super overs) in 40 matches on Wednesday.

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21,610 people loudly took to the stands to witness what is just the second-ever women’s T20 fixture at the alleged home of cricket, with this attendance marking a record for a home England women’s bilateral fixture, surpassing the total set at The Oval earlier this week. There was even enthusiasm throughout the rain delay, including cheers for the covers being removed, the two ground staff drying the outfield, and the stewards hopping over the rope used.

The wait didn’t sap their support, with each English boundary seeing a bigger celebration than their first. Alice Capsey’s huge six over long-on caused what can only be described as bedlam in the stands. This continued throughout the run chase, with the biggest cheer of the night celebrating Dani Gibson’s reverse sweep for victory. This condemned Australia to their first defeat in a bilateral white-ball series in six years, and saw the series evenly poised at 6-4 heading into the one-day internationals.

Love it or loathe it, playing at Lord’s is seen by many as the pinnacle of their cricketing career. Ahead of this fixture, Australia captain Alyssa Healy described the occasion as special. The famous pavilion and the spaceship-like media centre are locked in a never-ending staring contest at each end of the infamously sloped field, forming a cricket ground which has played host to some of the most iconic moments in the sport’s history.

Sourav Ganguly swinging his shirt over his head on the balcony, Jos Buttler removing the stumps to earn England the 2019 World Cup, and Anya Shrubsole’s bowling spell for victory in 2017 are just a few in the long list.

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However, the ground’s reputation transcends these moments. People who know very little about cricket will know about Lord’s. More so than about the events that have been mentioned above, or what a long leg is. Coming to the ground is an event, as is the case every time this journalist makes his way through the North Gate. Its reputation as the home of cricket means it is an intrinsic part of English cricket and as a result, England Women deserve the opportunity to play here more often.

Lord’s, and the Marylebone Cricket Club, undoubtedly has its’ flaws, many of which were highlighted very recently through both the release of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report and the actions which took part in the long room during the second Test of the Men’s Ashes.

About Lord’s, the ICEC report said: “The ‘home of cricket’ is still a home principally for men.”

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The lack of women’s cricket at Lord’s is frustrating almost to the point of anger, especially when compared to the annual fixture between Harrow and Eton. The match between two of the most elite and exclusive schools in the world has been played at Lord’s since 1818, missing only five years in that 205-year span.

The average yearly fee to attend these schools is £46,296 a year, without even mentioning the extremely selective nature of these schools’ admissions policies. The regularity of this fixture between two all-boys schools does nothing but exemplify the findings laid out in the above quote from the report.

 About Lord’s, the ICEC report said: “The ‘home of cricket’ is still a home principally for men.”

However, this is evidence to indicate steps are being taken in the right direction. Tonight’s match, both on and off the field, is enough to demonstrate Lord’s needs more England Women’s matches. There is a promise in place that the side will play their first Test match at the venue in 2026. And the work of the MCC Foundation shows at least one part of the organisation is active in bringing down the many barriers in place that limit the sport.

The Foundation works across the country and around the world to transform lives through cricket. Their aim is to make cricket accessible to children regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic circumstance. There are more than 70 cricket hubs around the UK, providing free-to-access coaching to around 3,200 state-educated children.

There will no doubt be youngsters in the crowd tonight inspired after witnessing Amy Jones’ incredible take to dismiss Ashleigh Gardner, Alice Capsey’s huge sixes, or even Australia’s late bowling comeback to take the game to the final over. Let’s hope they will be able to return to Lord’s to see England Women again, because they should be.

Lauren Bell believes England are closing the gap on Australia following Lord’s win


  • Seth Nobes

    Seth, 21, is an editor at the Sports Gazette specialising in cricket. He has experience commentating and writing on a variety of different sports, ranging from football and rugby to lacrosse and fencing. A Watford fan probably more annoyed at the sacking of managers than you.