Rounders has long reigned as the most popular girls’ sport at school. However, with women’s cricket hitting the headlines for all the right reasons and The Hundred tournament attracting the highest spectator attendance for a women’s cricket event ever, it’s great to see enthusiasm for the game being reflected on the school sports pitch. We speak to Felicity Smith, Head of Girls’ Games at Farleigh School, to find out why she believes cricket is quickly becoming the new favourite girls’ summer sport at school.
Over the course of the last few years rounders has made way for cricket as the main summer sport for girls. Girls have had the opportunity to play hardball cricket, developing from Incrediball pairs to hardball pairs and then onto T20 cricket.
The introduction of girls’ cricket at both prep and senior schools has been a massive step forward in terms of sporting equality. And, unlike with rounders, there are real possibilities for girls to follow a professional pathway, from school and club cricket to county and beyond.
Having role models like the England Women’s Cricket Team, who are competing with the world’s best, is incredibly inspiring for young girls. Some of the youngest and most exciting players in the England set-up have come through prep and independent senior schools, such as Maia Bouchier who attended The Dragon and then Rugby, and Charlie Dean who went to Portsmouth Grammar School.
I really believe in the maxim, ‘If you can see it, you can be it’, and having players like Maia and Charlie as role models shows our girls that they really can dream about playing at the highest level.
At Farleigh, the girls start to play cricket in Year 1 in the Pre-Prep. And then, from Year 3 to Year 8, they participate in an extensive and inclusive fixture programme as well as entering the IAPS competitions, the Hampshire Tournament and, this year, the inaugural School Notices U13 Girls Cricket Championship, hosted by Marlborough College.
The fixture circuit in the Hampshire/Berkshire/South of England region is incredibly strong and competitive. Our pupils love their training sessions knowing they will compete against some other strong prep schools in the area, such as Cheam, the Dragon, Lambrook and Twyford.
It is fantastic to see so many girls across all the age groups playing matches and participating with such enthusiasm and energy. Just recently, one of our senior pupils scored 56 not out, and another took three wickets for 13 runs. There’s truly exciting times ahead with girls’ cricket!