© 2019 – Nicolas Rackow for OUCC
(By Emily Wilkins)
This Trinity term, the Women’s Blue side decided to change their approach to getting beginners involved with cricket at Oxford by launching a new beginners’ training programme (thanks to support received through Sports Fed). 8 free weeks of training was offered to any female Oxford or Oxford Brookes student who wanted to get involved with these sessions, which were coached by qualified players from the Blue’s squad.
We were also lucky enough to have help from Claire Taylor whenever she was available throughout the term. It’s safe to say that she was an inspiration to the new players and made our lives as coaches much easier!
Over the course of the programme, we aimed to equip the ladies with a wide range of basic cricketing skills, with each session focussed on a different technical area of fielding, bowling and batting before ending in a small match. Unfortunately, University exams towards the end of the term resulted in turn out dropping from an average of 35 players in the first couple of weeks to about 15 towards the end. Despite this, it was incredible to see the progression of the players who were able to come to every session, which resulted in several players being invited to attend Blue’s training over the winter with the aspiration of fighting for first term selection next summer.
Although it was great to see some potential Blue’s players being scouted at these sessions, the biggest compliment for the coaches was definitely the number of players who, at the end of this programme, were asking how they could get involved with cricket again next year, regardless of their ability. This want for more, the progression of the players over the course of the programme and its popularity has definitely solidified these beginners sessions as something which should become a termly fixture within the Women’s Blue’s set up.
Further to this, I am confident that we will have enough players to field a 2nd XI team in Trinity term 2020. The establishment of a competitive 2nd XI as well as the continuation of the beginners sessions have the potential to strengthen the Women’s Blues side as more female players will be brought into cricket. This should not only increase competition for first team places, but should also encourage Blue’s players to work hard and perform every session to keep their place in the squad. The result of this will ultimately lead to our continued dominance in Varsity fixtures as well as promotion to a more competitive league where our players are pushed each fixture.
Aside from this, a 2nd XI and the continuation of the beginners’ programme will get more women involved in the sport, having fun and falling in love with the sport that we are all so passionate about.