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Women’s Hundred 2022 – Women’s Hundred shows sport’s evolution on fast-forward

Women’s cricket is changing. Money comes into the sport with players like Lizelle Lee and Deandra Dottin stepping away from the international game and living off the money made on the home circuit only.

As choices, they each carry their own sadness, nuance and complications, yet each can be taken with a pinch of sugar as opposed to salt in terms of how it marks the progression of the women’s game. In 2014, the England Women became the first women’s professional cricket team. And less than a decade later, it is possible to make a living from sport away from the international racetrack.

It also means that in games like today’s between London Spirit and Welsh Fire (in other words, dead gummies) that context still exists. It’s just that this doesn’t happen in a team, but individually. No one wins any team awards here, but they can earn a contract elsewhere.

“It’s obviously a really exciting time for all of women’s cricket,” said Freya Davies at the end after winning a 3:25 for London Spirit. “All these national tournaments around the world and yes I would love to go to the Big Bash but the focus right now is just performing and winning games for Spirit.”

It’s a trait of progress in women’s football that as the sport evolves, some of the traits we scoff at in other aspects of the sport will come to the fore. We want our players to only play for passion and love of the game, but passion and love don’t pay the bills. However, a registration fee and a bonus for 500 runs do.

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We want every game to be played as if it were the last, but the truth is that as the sport progresses, women’s football will follow in the men’s footsteps, with players taking part in so many competitions that the value of a title is in each slowly sinking and sinking, where the real price isn’t the runs you make today, but the contract they get you for the next day.

“They definitely need to continue those performances and want to do well,” said Welsh Fire’s Sarah Bryce after scoring 33 balls from 25. “You don’t really think about it while you’re playing out there, but if it can open up those possibilities, that’s really exciting.

“A few years ago the game you were playing was in front of your parents and maybe a few friends, so the fact that you’re playing in front of thousands of people definitely makes a difference and you can feel it.”

Both the floor and ceiling of the sport are lifting. And not steadily either, but in the same way a grandparent watches in disbelief as the 4ft 3in child who left them for Christmas returns the following year as a 6ft 7in teenager. The grandparents in shock. The teenager confused. Not realizing how dramatic a change they’ve gone through in such a short space of time.

“I think sometimes you can forget that,” said Davies, who, having already been in football for over a decade, is burned into the sport’s growth spurt rather than witnessing it from afar. “But then we play here and there’s a huge crowd and it’s something women’s cricket couldn’t have dreamed of two years ago.”

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The variety of reasons why it is important for every game of the Women’s Hundred to be broadcast highlights just how unique this period is in women’s cricket as it continues to seek to lay its foundations with one hand while at the same time going after premier league prizes grab with the other.

On a national level it is important that every game is broadcast as the game is still growing in the country and a generation of young players is available and ready to be inspired under the mantra “You can’t be what you can”. . not see.”

And yet, while that’s true on one side of a sport, every game broadcast is important to the players for a different reason. Just as youngsters can’t be what they can’t see, franchisees around the world can’t sign what they can’t see.

‘Runs on sky count double’ is an apocryphal adage that has long existed in cricket grounds across the country. Years ago, while watching a Blast game with a friend, a former teammate of his hit a fast fifty in an otherwise lean season on TV. But people saw it. Ex-players tweeted. And a new contract was signed. The result of the game didn’t matter, and yet it changed the player’s life.

When the two teams exited Lord’s today, there was nothing in the game for either side. But thanks to the growth of women’s football, it was a potentially life-changing phase for each of the 22 people who took the field.

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Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer based in London. @cameronponsonby

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