In the words of our old friend Mike Selvey, it’s “been a good couple of days for women at Lord’s.” First Clare Connor was named as the next president of the MCC – the first woman in the club’s 200-year history to be so venerated; and then Beth Morgan became the first woman in 150 years to be voted an Honorary Life Vice-President of Middlesex County Cricket Club.
Both selections are welcome and deserved – Clare Connor, former England captain, now Managing Director of Women’s Cricket at the ECB; and Beth Morgan – World Cup winner and the only player (Middlesex or otherwise) to have featured in every season of the Women’s County Championship.
But following these appointments, what’s important now is that these firsts are not also lasts. It would be right for a man to follow Connor as president of the MCC, but after that the club must not then use Connor’s term as an excuse to say: “You’ve had your turn – now back to the men for the next 223 years!” There are plenty of deserving women out there – let’s make sure the next next MCC president is a Claire or a Mel… not another Colin!
It’s going to be harder for Middlesex though, because the best female players won’t be playing for them any more – they will be playing for the London Somethings or the Eastern Somethingelses – teams that there are no guarantees will still exist in 20 years time, let alone going-on 200.
And sure, the players for the Somethings and the Somethingelses will get paid – probably more in a season than Beth Morgan did in her entire career – but they won’t have that history behind them, or the pride to wear a shirt that generations have before.
The recognition of Morgan and Connor, as well as Surrey and Kent’s recent efforts to acknowledge the histories of their great women players of the past by handing out belated, and in some cases even posthumous, county caps, should feel like the start of something.
It’s important to make sure it’s not the end too.