Cricket Australia Items/news/2013/5/22/importance-of-legacy

The importance of legacy

UPDATED 23 May, 2013 3:10PM AEST | by Cathryn Fitzpatrick

I always thought I'd play cricket for Australia, I just never thought it would be in the women’s team.

As a 10-year-old in the late 1970s, my role models were Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh.

I wasn't aware that during the same decade Miriam Knee and her team were contesting the first ever World Cup in cricket, men's or women’s. 

It wasn't until 1985 when I went to Bendigo to watch a Test match between the Australian and English women’s teams that I got to see the players who would  leapfrog  Rod and Dennis as my idols and who would inspire me to find out as much as I could about the history of women’s cricket.

Following that trip I started a scrapbook.

I photocopied stories from books at the local library and scanned any newspaper article that I could find about women’s cricket to add to my scrapbook.

There was no internet back then, so players of the ilk of Margaret Peden, Betty Wilson, Marg Jennings and Sharon Tredrea were more elusive to find.

The more I found out about the history of women’s cricket in Australia, the more my admiration grew for these women and what they gave up to play for their country.

I haven't stopped searching for those stories, which are now a little easier to find online, and I always seek opportunities to talk to past players as they affectionately recall their experiences.

My introduction into the Australian women’s team came at a time of transition for the playing group and I can still remember  listening to the senior players such as Christina Matthews and Lyn Larsen speak of their previous tours, the challenges they faced, and how touring life had certainly changed for the 'modern' female players.

As my playing days came to an end 15 years later, the stories and the voices were a little different, but the observations were the same.

Belinda Clark and Karen Rolton recalled their experiences passionately and were certain that more opportunities would be on offer for the next group of players coming through.

That brings us to now and my role as coach of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars.

Culture is a big part of the success of a team and something that I believe is driven equally by staff and players.

Part of our team’s culture is to acknowledge and respect the legacy of those who played before us, while also ensuring we create a legacy of our own.

One of the things that I have taken responsibility for is to bring to life the characters of the past so that when any team leaves the change rooms and runs onto the field, they can do so with a sense of pride, knowing that this opportunity has in a small way come about because of the fearless teams that overcame different challenges to take the same steps.

Our team does run onto the field, full of confidence and pride.

Why? Because that is what we have been taught.

They were taught firstly by Margaret Peden and her team that you must crawl before you walk, and that's what the teams from the 1930s through to the 1970s showed us.

Then the great teams from the 1980s through to the start of this century were able to take the first steps for women’s cricket in this country.

Those steps have allowed the likes of Jodie Fields, Alex Blackwell, Ellyse Perry and others to run.

Because of them, we now get to enjoy what this current group of players are capable of achieving and they too will teach future generations to continue to run.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 22 May, 2013 3:07PM AEST

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