In any team sport (and even in some nominally individual sports, like athletics) the concept of the team as a bonded unit is very important. You play for the team; you work for the team; you win for the team. Ask any player and they will tell you: it is the team – and being part of the team – that really matters!
And yet in the modern era of multiple teams, this presents a dilemma – on Super League Finals Day, Charlotte Edwards was team-mates with Carla Rudd… two weeks later they were facing off against each other in the County Championship, respectively for Kent and Berkshire. In the next few months, she will likely find herself playing against other Vipers team-mates in Australia’s WNCL and WBBL… but then next summer they will be Vipers together once more!
So what do you do with those little pieces of knowledge – the flaw in technique you know the player has been working on in the nets… the slower delivery you’ve overheard the coach discussing? Do you exploit that knowledge against someone who might be your team-mate again in six months time… or do you keep the secret?
It is a dilemma which India’s Smriti Mandhana alluded to in a recent interview with Cricbuzz, discussing the possibility of playing against national team-mate Harmanpreet Kaur in the WBBL, making it pretty clear where she stands:
“I don’t think we’re giving each other’s secrets away!”
Contrast this with the attitude of New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, who spoke to us in the run-up to KSL:
“I don’t care that Georgia [Elwiss] plays for England and I play for New Zealand – for me that goes out the window and it’s just about playing cricket. And if we can help each other get better and if we can help the county players get better, then surely that’s going to be better for the women’s game in general.”
Maybe Devine’s perspective is simply reflective of the reality that, in an age of video analysis, there can’t really be secrets any more… at least not ones that last for more than 5 minutes out in the middle?
But it is also interesting to consider that this more open mindset comes from a New Zealander – the country that, more than any other, seems to be encouraging its stars to embrace the world of the modern, globetrotting, supranational cricketer.
And then you ask yourself: which team are on the up right now, increasingly at the top of many people’s lists of favourites for the World Cup in England next year?
New Zealand, of course!
Or perhaps not!