Breaking boundaries – GDST cricketers take on MCC Women

Last Friday (27th April), the most promising young cricketers from across the GDST took on their heroes as the GDST Cricket Select XI faced the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Women at Hampstead Cricket Club, London.

Our girls were coached by England cricket superstar Lydia Greenway and competed against icons of the game, including Charlotte Edwards – former England women’s cricket captain – and Beth Barrett-Wild.

With rain continuing to threaten play, both sides battled the elements in the 20-20 match, which ended with the MCC Women winning by 44 runs.

As our first foray into the world of competitive cricket at this level – and the first time the GDST has fielded a cricket ‘Select XI’ team – the match was set-up to inspire the next generation of girls to play cricket, and is part of the GDST’s wider commitment to drive interest in sport among girls and young women.

Once the scores had been settled, the girls enjoyed lunch and a Q&A with their inspirational opponents, where they were advised by Barrett-Wild to “play hard but play fair, and respect your opposition.”

When asked what advice they’d give their younger selves, Edwards said: “You have a really exciting future ahead of you. Keep playing. Play as many sports as you can for as long as you can.”

“You have to be resilient, [and] you have to love and believe in yourself” she added, when asked what makes a great leader.

Having had the chance to meet and compete against their idols, the GDST team – who refer to themselves as the ’original’ GDST cricket team – were left inspired and encouraged by the day and suggested they should return to HCC each year to play the new Select XI.

The girls were grateful for the chance to take part, with co-Captain Abigail Passmore saying, “It’s so rare to get that opportunity. You watch them on the telly, and they’re people you look up to, and then suddenly you’re batting against someone who’s known as a legend.”

Despite conceding the game, the girls were incredibly positive – “We can say, ‘Charlotte Edwards got me out. Yes, I was out. But by Charlotte Edwards, so it’s ok’”, said Oxford High School’s Alice Potter.

The girls also praised the MCC women for their respect and supportiveness on and off the pitch.

Passmore’s fellow co-Captain, Jaya Sekhon from Nottingham Girls’ High School, noted: “We came into it thinking they were going to be a tough team. I mean, they’re renowned as a team, but they were so supportive about it. Even in the field when we were batting, they’d say “well played, batter”, so they nerves kind of went.”

The spectators for the match included many of the parents of the selected girls, who glowed with pride at their daughters’ achievements, and thanked the GDST for providing the opportunity.

Meg Potter, mother of Alice, said “Being able to play at the elite level like this within their own GDST schools is inspirational for them, plus they meet these inspirational figures. I’m just looking forward for hockey to come in next!”

Alice’s father added, “I think it’s a fantastic initiative to have a GDST squad and… it will only get stronger each year as more and more girls are playing cricket. I hope it will reach a point where individual schools can have their own teams and they can compete against each other at rallies, just like they do with other sports.”

During her speech at the post-match reception, Carol Chandler-Thompson, Head at Blackheath High School, who leads on sport for the GDST, said,

“At the Girls’ Day School Trust, we believe there is a  sport for everyone. We are proud to be pioneering opportunities and creating new sporting traditions. Today’s match against MCC Women is a testament to the standard our girls have reached. They have enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against their heroes.”

Just as we are, the MCC and Lord’s are committed to promoting cricket for girls.

Charlotte Edwards told us: “Seeing these girls playing here today makes me just as happy as England winning the World Cup final. This match is all about the spirit of cricket. It’s so important that girls are given the opportunity to play in school to help us provide opportunities for the next generation. Now is such an exciting time for women’s cricket and I’m thrilled to be part of today’s match.”