Lauren Winfield-Hill and Alison Mitchell help drive women’s cricket into prosperous times - Chris Waters

WHEN I became a cricket writer some 20-odd years ago I remember that there was a respected national journalist who was routinely disparaging about the women’s game.

Whenever the subject cropped up in county press boxes, from Headingley to Hove and all points between, he would loudly dismiss it in the most derogatory terms, remarks guaranteed to elicit guffaws in what could also then be guaranteed – with extremely rare exception – to be an exclusively male environment.

Fast forward two decades and such attitudes are not only antediluvian and abhorrent but the premise behind them – that women cannot play cricket and have no business doing so – is self-evidently nonsense.

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Indeed, the standard of women’s cricket, its quality and its profile have never been higher as we reach the end of a summer in which the ladies’ game has taken a huge leap forward to the extent that there is no turning back.

Lauren Winfield-Hill celebrates her century with Katherine Brunt against Central Sparks. (Picture: Will Palmer/SWPix.com)

For as the 2021 season disappears from view, a season in which there has been precious little to cheer in terms of the men’s sport, perhaps, the same could hardly be said of its female equivalent.

While The Hundred, for instance, has had a deleterious effect on men’s cricket, unless one is so blinded by the advantage of counties being consequently forced to blood young players in the Royal London Cup that one is oblivious to the wider impact caused by the 100-ball concept, the women’s game has at least benefited from double-header games and greater exposure.

Whether such exposure could have been achieved without taking a sledgehammer to the men’s game is an argument for another time but the reach of women’s cricket has never been greater, with a more professional outlook also lifting the standard of domestic competitions that are also going from strength to strength.

Although it would be naive to think that the attitudes adduced at the start of this article have been entirely banished from the sport, the zeitgeist is changing, with gender equality becoming increasingly important albeit with still a long way to go.

Ambassador - Lauren Winfield-Hill. (Picture: SWPix.com)

For this the players themselves deserve great credit; the women’s game has many fine role models who seem to appreciate what they have even more because of the hardships of the journey.

One thinks of the likes of our very own Lauren Winfield-Hill, for example, a superb ambassador as well as a superb cricketer, with such as Lauren inspiring new generations of supporters with her positive attitude as well as her prodigious ablity.

A word, also, for those in the media, the women who have cut through a very male-dominated industry to reach the top and inspire in their own right.

They, too, have faced challenges and prevailing prejudices and overcome them through their talent and character.

Jemimah Rodrigues and the Northern Superchargers' women's team played to big crowds (Picture: SWPix.com)

One thinks of the likes of Alison Mitchell, for instance, the outstanding Test Match Special commentator and a genuine trailblazer.

Alison is one of the very best at what she does and the warmth that radiates from her style behind the microphone is very much an extension of her personality; she is a richly impressive, top-class professional.

Thanks to the likes of Alison, the players themselves and so many others, the depressing attitudes of the past have been kicked into the long grass and an unstoppable revolution is gathering pace with these magnificent women firmly at its helm.