Sport

Knight hopes less girls stick out like sore thumbs in junior cricket

England captain Heather Knight hopes fewer girls will stick out like sore thumbs thanks to The Metro Bank Girls in Cricket Fund. 

Knight spent the majority of her junior career as the only girl in boys and men’s sides for her local club Plymstock. 

The Devon native first played for a women’s side aged 13 before making her England debut aged 20. 

“Plymstock Cricket Club was my club growing up,” Knight said. “I played all through the age groups and then for the first team. 

“I really enjoyed being down there and being around mainly men and boys, I was really the only girl and that was my start in it.  

“I definitely learnt a lot playing men’s first team cricket, it was testing at times but really fun and all the guys at my club made me feel really welcome.  

“I got the odd comment from the opposition but my teammates made me feel welcome.” 

The Metro Bank Girls in Cricket Fund, co-designed and jointly funded by Metro Bank and ECB, focuses on recruiting, educating, supporting, and celebrating the people that make girls’ cricket in clubs happen, with the ambition to triple the number of girls’ teams at clubs by the end of 2026. 

The 2023 National Cricket Playing Survey indicated that one of the main barriers for women and girls at all levels includes a distinct lack of female coaches in the girls’ game sitting at the heart of this. 

Knight added: “A lot of people could have been put off by playing men’s cricket to be honest.  

“It would have been cool to play with girls as well but hopefully now there are more options if you want to play women’s cricket and men’s cricket.  

“I still think playing men’s cricket is a good development for a girl that is good enough, but having more people around you that are like you and as women we appreciate the social side a lot.

“So having a few mates to be with and not feel like you stuck out like a sore thumb would be nice.”

Knight is currently leading England in a T20I series against Pakistan and scored 49 in the victorious opener at Edgbaston to help rescue her side from 13-4. 

During the ODI series which follows, Knight will return to the place where she first saw women’s cricket, Taunton. 

Since then, Knight has led a revolution in the way women’s cricket is viewed with last year’s record crowds and interest carrying over into 2024.

“I remember going to a game at Taunton, England against New Zealand, Jenny Gunn was in the team,” Knight said.

“I was probably 15 and I remember being amazed by the fielding, of the Kiwis rather than the English! Although Jenny was a very good fielder. 

“I remember thinking it was quite cool as you couldn’t really watch women’s cricket on the telly, so it was my first real taste of women’s cricket.” 

Heather Knight was speaking on behalf of Metro Bank. Head to metrobankonline.co.uk/cricket where you can discover more about the Metro Bank Girls In Cricket Fund, and help to champion the future of girls’ cricket.

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