“MCC Is Changing”: MCC Members Saba Nasim And Danni Warren On 20 Year Anniversary Of Club’s Vote To Accept Women

This is a companion piece to Raf’s feature piece for The Cricket Monthly, ‘When women stormed the citadel’.

20 years ago this week, on 27 September 1998, MCC members took part in the most important vote in the club’s history. At last, after a campaign that had lasted a decade, the necessary two-thirds majority in favour of accepting women as members was achieved.

Two decades down the line, I spoke to two of the MCC’s female members to find out what has changed in the interim period: Saba Nasim, a Chance to Shine cricket coach from East London and currently a Probationary Member, and Danni Warren, MCC and Middlesex Head of Women’s Cricket.

Q: When and why did you decide to apply for MCC membership?

“I heard about being a member a few years ago, but just never got round to filling in the form. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago, I think it was 2016, I found out that one of the guys at my club [Wanstead] was actually a committee member. I asked him the process and he said ‘yeah I can nominate you if you want’. I’ve played at quite a lot of clubs anyway and I enjoy meeting new people, playing different levels of cricket.” [Saba Nasim]

“I’ve been a member for about 8 years. I first joined when I was playing a bit more cricket. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed playing MCC cricket. You get to play some very different cricket: I’ve played some two-day games against the Young Cricketers in the past, down to playing against a school who really hadn’t played much cricket up until 6 weeks before we played them. You get some very good experiences playing against different players. I spend a lot of my time now trying to convince other people trying to do the same!” [Danni Warren]

Q: Do you feel accepted as a woman within MCC?

“Yes, definitely. The matches I’ve played and the people I’ve met, they’ve always been for the idea that women should be part of MCC. Everyone’s been very welcoming and we had a lot of fun on the recent MCC Women Belgium tour – I can’t wait to go on the next one. MCC matches are really fun games, they’re competitive but they’re also all about the Spirit of Cricket which I really enjoy. I’m a coach as well so I always try to get that in the kids, you should play hard but you should play fair and enjoy yourself, so I really enjoy those games. They’re a little bit different to the club games and the county games I play, in that they’re a little more fun and there’s a social aspect to it as well.” [SN]

“I never really felt at all daunted, or as if it was something that was that big a deal when somebody gave me a form. It was just another opportunity to play more cricket. I knew a lot of members and therefore I wanted to play a bit more cricket with them. Part of my job now as MCC and Middlesex head of women’s cricket is about membership growth – trying to encourage more female members, especially playing members. The MCC men will play 500-odd matches a year, versus the 25 that the women play. Fewer people will find themselves on the receiving end of an MCC match than would do in the men’s game and therefore we’re trying to increase the exposure that we can get. The more members we get, the more games we can play.” [DW]

Q: Can more be done to promote female membership?

“At the moment MCC is quite a white club, but people are starting to realise it doesn’t have to be. If you have someone in each club that knows how to join, we’ll definitely get many more members from diverse backgrounds. It’s still quite a lot of white women playing, but it’s definitely changing. Women’s cricket as a whole has changed, we’re getting different communities involved in the sport now, we’re making women’s cricket accessible for them.” [SN]

“From what I’ve found, speaking to people in the last year or so, it’s awareness of the role that MCC play as a club. Women that play cricket aren’t necessarily aware of it, whereas men tend to grow up with it in the background, or they’ve been part of a game where MCC have played their club or played their county side or something that they’ve been able to see. In the women’s game there’s not that awareness – we’re trying to increase that.

Part of my job is running the new women’s Academy based at Lord’s – the idea is to bring talented players that are in or close to first team cricket through, and give them opportunities to progress up the pathway. It’s been really successful, with a large number of the players playing first team cricket or getting into KSL sides. They are encouraged to and have already played in some MCC matches. A number of them have signed off membership application already or have played as guests in matches. Very much a by-product of it is we want more players who are in the county system at present being able to play as playing members to join the club, to play our matches against schools and clubs and leagues, and to be able to help grow the game.” [DW]

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NEWS: Sarah Taylor To Miss Forthcoming World Twenty20

Sarah Taylor will miss the forthcoming Women’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, the ECB have revealed.

A mutual decision was made by both the player and the management staff with the welfare of the player the top priority.

Taylor missed England’s tour of India earlier this year, as well as one Super League group-stage game for her side Surrey Stars, as the ECB have sought to manage her ongoing anxiety issues.

Coach Mark Robinson said: “Since the end of the summer Sarah hasn’t been able to train fully with the squad due to not being as fit as she would want to be from a psychological point of view.”

“At the moment she isn’t in a place where we would all be comfortable that the demanding training, playing and travel schedule wouldn’t potentially put her backwards and make her road to full recovery longer.”

“It’s important we see mental health in a similar way to a player with a physical injury. You wouldn’t risk a player if you felt that playing them with an injury would increase the chances of them being out for a long time or the issue even becoming career-threatening.”

Taylor will continue to train at Loughborough during the tournament.

The full England squad is due to be announced next Thursday at Lord’s. This news suggests that Amy Jones, as second choice keeper, will now definitely be in the side, with presumably Tammy Beaumont as back-up.

DEBRIEF: WNCL – Double Brucie Bonus Puts New South Wales Top

Team Played Won Lost Points NRR
1. New South Wales Breakers 2 1 1 6 1.51
2. Victoria 2 1 1 5 0.15
3. Queensland Fire 2 1 1 4 0.20
4. ACT Meteors 2 1 1 4 -0.01
5. Western Fury 2 1 1 4 -0.03
6. South Australian Scorpions 2 1 1 4 -0.09
7. Tasmania 2 1 1 4 -1.66

With 2 rounds played this weekend, perennial champions New South Wales sit at the top of the WNCL ladder, despite a dramatic opening-day loss to Queensland. Queensland put themselves in a great position, bowling NSW out for 149, only for Rene Farrell to knock-over their entire top order in a remarkable 5-wicket opening spell which left Queensland 18-6. But Queensland recovered thanks to 50s from Sammy-Jo Johnson and Josie Dooley to win the match with just one wicket remaining!

Normal service was restored for NSW the following day, as they smashed Tasmania for 344 – Rachel Haynes and Alyssa Healy both hitting 80s – and then bowled them out for 158 to grab a double-dose of bonus points.

This was after Tasmania, under new coach Salliann Briggs, had got their first points on the board in almost 2 years on Day 1, thanks to Player of the Match Corinne Hall, who hit 86 off 98 balls as Tasmania successfully chased ACT’s 218 all out to win by 5 wickets.

For South Australia, Tahlia McGrath hit 105 as they posted 251 versus Victoria, but McGrath’s efforts were trumped by Meg Lanning’s 120* as Victoria chased the runs in under 40 overs for the bonus-point win that puts them 2nd.

There was better luck for South Australia the following day, as Bridget Patterson became their second centurion of the weekend, hitting 109 against Western Australia, who were then bowled out for 205, with 3 wickets apiece for Megan Schutt and Amanda Wellington.

With everyone getting a win on the opening weekend, it’s all to play for when WNCL resumes in… er… November – yes, you read that right – without the internationals, who will be in the West Indies (along with us!) for the Women’s World T20. Then we have to wait until February for the final round of games, prior to the top two playing off in the final on February 9.

OPINION: The 100 Is Still Nonsense… But It’s All The Nonsense We’ve Got

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we weren’t invited to the trials for The 100 that took place this week at Loughborough and Trent Bridge; but enough information has dripped out to get a good idea of where things are going with the ECB’s new competition.

As the ECB are discovering, cheap slogans and simple promises don’t necessarily translate easily into actual workable solutions. The problems begin with the very concept of “100” – a number of balls which it turns out isn’t divisible by 6, and so can’t be slotted neatly into traditional 6-ball overs! So… let’s have 5 ball overs… but that means more changes of end… okay, so let’s have 10 ball overs… but that would lead to fast bowlers getting injured… okay so let’s have 5 or 10 ball overs, according to whether the batsman’s mother’s maiden name ends in a “Y”?

Not quite as simple as it sounded in the blue-sky marketing meeting, is it?

Other ideas floated around – cutting the “red tape” of LBWs and/or PowerPlays – have gone nowhere, because it turns out there were actually quite good reasons for these laws after all, and scrapping them would have a lot of negative externalities – scrap LBW and I’d give it 5 minutes before batsmen started taking advantage and using their pads deliberately to protect the stumps; scrap the PowerPlay and you’d have 9 men on the boundary before you could say “Howzat?”!

So it looks like what we will end up with is exactly like cricket… but with a more complicated “overs” system (possibly not even called “overs” but “fives”) which they will try to mask by having a big scoreboard count down from 100 – even though they HAVE to keep some concept of overs (/ fives) to control how many balls each bowler can bowl and from which end they will be bowled, because counting actual balls would obviously be a nightmare!

What a farce!

And yet… for all the nonsense… there will be an upside – the fillip in visibility that will come as the media latch on to Something New™, as they did with the KSL; the Free-To-Air TV numbers that will dwarf those that have sat behind Sky’s paywall for a generation; the families that will come for the fireworks in the sky and stay for the fireworks on the field.

There will be more opportunities for players too – especially the fringe players, with two additional rosters to fill. So the players are on-board, because it offers them more – more cricket, more visibility, more fame… and more money!

And at the end of the day… as I’m not the first to say… it’s still cricket – swingers will still swing; spinners will still spin; and batsmen will still bat.

And we’ll be there to watch, like we always are.

Because it might be nonsense.

But it’s all the nonsense we’ve got.

NEWS: Bates Quits New Zealand Captaincy

Suzie Bates has resigned as New Zealand captain after six years in the role.

But 30-year-old Bates will continue to play for the White Ferns, saying:

“I still have a lot to contribute to the White Ferns and international cricket and that the best way for me to do that is by concentrating more energy into my performances on the field.”

Bates has led New Zealand at a time of great change, with the professionalisation of the women’s game adding new challenges for the smaller nations, as they try to keep up with the pace set by Australia and England, but without the same resources.

Bates responded by burning the candle at all 3 ends to try to maintain the pace – playing domestic cricket at home in New Zealand and in Australia during the antipodian summer, literally shuttling between the two; then spending her winters in England playing county cricket for Kent and latterly Hampshire, and KSL for Southern Vipers.

It was a schedule that was perhaps starting to take its toll, as she began to look a slightly tired shawdow of her usual self towards the end of this season in England.

Bates will be succeeded as New Zealand captain by Amy Satterthwaite who will take charge for the upcoming T20 series versus Australia.

This is clearly not an appointment for the future – Satterthwaite is a year older than Bates – but she has the experience that New Zealand need right now to keep the seat warm for a couple of years until Amelia Kerr – the only realistic long term candidate – can perhaps take over after the 2021 World Cup.

MATCH REPORT: The West win the Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup Final

Jake Perry reports

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The West 112-3 (E Watson 55*, E Talbot 1 for 21) beat Edinburgh South-Stewart’s Melville 111-4 (K White 60*, C Dalton 3 for 19) by seven wickets

It was a tale of two openers at New Williamfield as The West claimed the 2018 Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup with a pulsating seven wicket win over Edinburgh South/Stewart’s Melville. Although ESSM’s Kathryn White carried her bat for an unbeaten half-century, The West’s Ellen Watson matched the feat with 55 not out as her quick-fire partnership of 60 with captain Charlotte Dalton confirmed a maiden cup win for their young team.

After the loss of Catherine Holland (7) and Kathryn Fraser (0) reduced ESSM to 42 for 2 within the first nine overs of the first innings, the experience of former Scotland international White had proved telling as she and captain Hannah Short (21) led their side’s recovery with a fourth wicket partnership of 59. White’s powerful hitting was a constant threat, and, despite being given a life on 53 after she turned a no-ball into the hands of Lois Wilkinson, the forty-year-old’s belligerent 60 had put her side into a good position as the innings came to an end.

Charlotte Dalton’s three wickets had kept The West in touch, however, and with tight bowling from Naimh Robertson-Jack (three overs for 5), Moon Mughis (two overs for 11) and Lois Wilkinson (four overs for 12), too, the game was tantalisingly poised.

The West’s chase got away to a shaky start as Neyma Shaikh (0) and Abtaha Maqsood (2) fell within the first four overs, and when the dangerous Wilkinson (16) followed in the tenth to leave the score on 52 for 3 the fate of the innings, and the match, rested on the partnership between Ellen Watson and the incoming Charlotte Dalton.

Any potential nerves were settled quickly, however, as the two calmly led their side to victory. The in-form Dalton found the rope twice in consecutive deliveries from Chloe Keily, first pulling a high full toss through backward square before skipping down to plant a lofted drive over mid-on. Watson followed suit off the first ball of the next over, too, as she played a neat turn off her pads through fine leg before bringing up her fifty as the target loomed ever closer. Fittingly, it was left to the Scotland player to seal the win in the 17th over with her sixth boundary in what had been a well-paced knock.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” said Charlotte Dalton. “We lost our quarter-final last week but got through because another team wasn’t able to field a team today so we were quite fortunate, but I think that our performance today has vindicated us. We put in a really strong team performance in the semi-final against Carlton which was really pleasing. We come from a variety of clubs, we don’t train together, so for us to be able to come together and play like that has done everybody proud.

“We had lost to ESSM in the quarter-final last weekend so we felt we had something to prove against them today. We maybe gave them a few too many runs at the top of the innings but our bowlers and fielders really pulled it back and then our batters put on a really awesome performance. There was a bit of squeaky bum time in overs twelve to fourteen, I was doing the maths in my head and it was almost a run a ball needed and it was getting tense, but what a time for Ellen Watson to score her maiden fifty. She made it look easy and really steadied the ship to take us to the win.”

In the two semi-finals earlier in the day, a partnership of 55 between Abtaha Maqsood (28*) and Lois Wilkinson (24) was decisive as The West chased down Carlton’s 83 for 7 within fifteen overs, whilst Kathryn White (41), Chloe Keily (3 for 5), Kathryn Fraser (2 for 5) and Emma Phipps (2 for 10) were the stand-out performers in ES-SM’s 71 run win over George Watson’s College.

The play-off between the two capital sides saw Carlton claim third-place after an eight-wicket win against outgoing cup-holders GWC. Scotland U21s Charis Scott (3 for 5) and Ikra Farooq (2 for 2) restricted GWC to 49 for 7, leaving Carlton’s top order to put the finishing touches onto a comfortable victory by chasing down the target with more than ten overs to spare.

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket