Friday, 9 March 2012

A woman? In the Pavilion?!

I'll tell you now that I didn't always love cricket. I describe myself as a recent passionate convert. Here's how it happened:

I was vaguely aware of Cricket hanging around at various points in my life, like that weird friend of your sibling who you'll say "hi" to but not actually meet his eye because then you'll inevitably have to have a Real Proper conversation with him. And that would be bad, because he's a bit odd, and you don't understand half of what he says, and Oh my god! What if that makes him think I like him? Eeeew!  So I ignored Cricket in quite a shifty way, despite other people assuring me that Cricket and I would get on really well if we got to know each other. I disagreed, claiming that Cricket was boring and insanely difficult to understand. Cricket continued to hang around in the background, unperturbed.

I tolerated Cricket over the years, went through phases of acceptance (Oh, Cricket's here again) and resentment (Is bloody Cricket here AGAIN??) and began to pick up bits and pieces about Cricket despite myself. Still, I maintained that we would never have a proper relationship because Cricket just Wasn't My Type.

Then, one day, it struck me that Cricket was, in fact, really lovely.
It was a proper road-to-Damascus moment. That weird friend was suddenly gorgeous - how and when did that happen? I wasn't sure, but I was determined that people wouldn't think I was only interested on a physical level. I've always been a nerd - I am that person who sorts out all of the screws and assorted thingumies in the flatpack furniture into piles and checks the quantities before starting. So learning about Cricket wasn't exactly difficult now that I was properly interested. Before I knew it, I was head over heels in love.

I don't pretend to know everything about Cricket. It is still quite a new relationship, and Cricket is very complex. There's a lot to learn. There have already been a few ups and downs, but Cricket has been there for me during a rough year. I am confident that things will only get stronger.


So... you're just in it for the totty, then?
No, not at all. That's like suggesting that I only watch films because I fancy Robert Downey Jnr - yes I do, yes I am more likely to go see something purely because he's in it, but that's not the reason I watch films in general. That would be ridiculous. I won't deny that there are players who I find attractive but that's just bonus sprinkles on the already awesome cake.

But you're a woman. What do you know about cricket?
Not masses, but that's not because I'm a woman, it's because I'm relatively new to it. Pop over and read A Cricketing Buddha's views on women in the sport, because my opinion on it is basically "ditto" and I'm not getting on my soapbox just yet.

What's that woman doing in the Pavilion?
I made the decision to get club membership because I planned to spend a lot of time watching cricket. I joined Surrey for the totty because I grew up in Surrey and because London clubs made sense geographically. Last season, I practically lived at the Oval. The first time I went up there on my own was a bit scary but I settled down with my maths books (nerd, remember?) and was at ease really quickly.

I did get a few funny looks, mostly from the older gents who have probably been going to the Oval since before I was born. A steward at Whitgift once asked me incredulously if I was there by myself, as though a young(ish) woman couldn't possibly be at the cricket without some form of "Go on, come to the cricket, I promise I'll do the laundry for a month" arrangement with The Husband Or Boyfriend. The odd bloke has come over and chatted to me in a "don't worry, I'll save you from being alone" way, which they'd never do to a man by himself.

You know what, though? There's never been any sense of hostility. The closest I've come to that is 'slightly bemused'. Naff as it may sound, the Oval has become my sanctuary. This woman is very comfortable in the Pavilion, thanks.


  1. lovely post Rowan! I do love THOB as an acronym too...

    1. Thanks. I didn't really think of the acronym properties but it'll probably make another appearance now.

  2. Lovely start to your blog!
    I have similar history - from years of loathing to loving every minute!! Happy to go alone, happy to be with friends!
    Look forward to reading more!
    Psst, how was luncheon???

    1. Thanks. Glad to hear it's not just me - so many people I knew grew up with cricket and loved it from a child.

      Luncheon was lovely.

  3. Fantastic start to what will be a grand blog! I love that women will go to the cricket on their own - before I met my wife she regularly did the same.

    May your new romance continue to blossom....

    Oh, and thanks for the link to 'Cricket's better half'. Cricinfo will no doubt include a new Women's International section soon.

    1. Thank you, and I hope that cricket and I have many happy years ahead of us. It's funny, because I'm a nervous wreck about going to places on my own but I'm fine at the cricket.

      You're very welcome for the link. #InternationalNOTother!!

  4. 'Psst how was luncheon?' .. The answer I suspect was in the question!

    Priceless (probably) unintended mirth!

    Good stuff - keep 'em coming!