No more Miss Nice Guy for our cricketers!

It is a mark of the progress made by women’s cricket that radio commentators, like me, are not afraid to get stuck into the players. Five or six years ago that wouldn’t have happened; it was all nicey-nicey, and when someone did something bad the commentators wouldn’t necessarily say so.

But the game is at a point now where the standards are so high, and if players don’t reach those standards they expect to be pulled up on it. I don’t think they necessarily mind that because they don’t want people to be pussyfooting around it; it’s a game in its own right now.

It’s important that women’s cricket has grown up enough for us to be critical when teams play badly. It’s proof we hold it in higher regard if we tell it like it is rather than making exceptions. That’s really valuable.

I do miss playing game but I’m having really good fun commentating on Test Match Special – it’s a lot easier than running around in the outfield, that’s for sure! The radio stuff has been brilliant. It’s nice to have been given the opportunity to stay involved in the game because when you retire you can be at a bit of a loose end. It’s made the transition of not playing a relatively smooth one. I know sometimes it is quite tough for players when they come out of the game.

The TMS guys – Ali Mitchell, Charles Dagnall, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Henry Moeran and Dan Norcross – are all really good people. In a way I’ve come out of one team and moved straight into another one. It’s a nice, bubbly atmosphere and everyone is so positive. During the World Cup final alone we also had seven or eight cakes. There hasn’t been one yet in this Kia Women’s Super League campaign, but hopefully that will change by the final.

The BBC have supported the women’s game for a long time and their listening figures have increased a huge amount since the World Cup, which is good for them; it’s similar with Sky, who have been great in giving the opportunity for the girls to play on the screen. Having someone like Michael Atherton commentating on the KSL adds value in itself.

I’m looking forward to today’s match at Taunton between Storm and Lightning – appropriate given the weather we’ve endured this week. It is a repeat of last year’s semi-final and I think it will be a really good game.

I went to Loughborough Lightning’s launch event the other night and they are creating a great team environment. They were all presented with their caps and new players were inducted into the ‘Loughborough Family’, as they call it. They’re building a really nice culture. I know they were bitterly disappointed to lose the semi-final last year, so they will be looking to go one better this time.

I still live up in Loughborough, as do most of the England squad. There’s certainly an England community up there. Often when you see a white Kia driving past you know it’s one of the girls. It is nice because cricket is such a social sport and when you are all living quite close to each other it’s easy to wind down together as well.

The domestic games you play against your international team-mates are often the most competitive because, naturally, all the girls want to beat each other. People really get stuck in and that’s brilliant because it shows what it means to them. I think that’s why we’ve seen such brilliant cricket over the past few months with the World Cup, and hopefully that on-field competitiveness will continue in the KSL.

This tournament also provides young talent with a stage to prove themselves and try and get into the England side. The Lightning have Georgia Elwiss and Amy Jones, who have both played internationally, but who have yet to nail down a regular place. Georgia was in the World Cup squad but unfortunately didn’t get to play. While she would have been pleased for the team with their success in winning the tournament, there’s no doubt she would have wanted to play some part in it. But now she and others like Amy have the chance to really show what they can do, and that’s why I think this tournament is so good.

It is also an opportunity for the girls to play alongside or face players they will come up against in The Ashes this winter. The Lightning have three Aussies this year: Ellyse Perry is a run machine and also a superb bowler, while Elyse Villani and Kristen Beams are very capable cricketers. We saw Villani hit some big sixes during the World Cup and she is a good character to have around the team.

Western Storm also have international class in the West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor, who was Player of the Tournament last year and has returned for another stint. They didn’t get off to the best start on Thursday against defending champions Southern Vipers, being bowled out for 70, so I know they’ll be looking to fix that.

I think the best thing after such a defeat is to play again very quickly. The players know what they did wrong and it’s good to have the opportunity to put things right immediately. The Storm have got Taylor, England captain Heather Knight, Fran Wilson and New Zealand’s Rachel Priest, so there are a lot of experienced players who will ensure they dust themselves down and get out there again. They know this tournament goes so quickly – there are only five group games and then you’re into finals day – and you can’t really afford to go through bad patches.

One of the great things about Heather is that she can move on pretty quickly. She doesn’t dwell on things and I think that’s one reason why England were so successful in the World Cup. I’ve got no doubt she will be keeping the girls positive and will chat individually to them about their game-plans and things like that. She’s certainly not a ranter and raver. In all the years I’ve known her I’ve never seen her shout in the dressing room.

I was lucky enough to play with her when she first came into the England team and I really remember her, even though she was a bit younger, being fazed by absolutely nothing. Immediately I thought she had something about her and that’s remained throughout her career so far.

You can find eight games of the Kia Super League live on Sky Sports and every round will be covered on BBC Test Match Special. For more information and to buy tickets go to www.ecb.co.uk/super-league

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lydia Greenway is a former England cricketer who played more than 200 games for her country over 13 years. During that period, she lifted two World Cups as well as winning The Ashes on four occasions. One of the more inventive players in the side – known for her incredible reverse sweep – she scored in excess of 4,000 international runs as well as pulling off numerous spectacular catches in the outfield. She can now be found commentating as part of the BBC’s Test Match Special team as well as running her own coaching academy. Lydia’s latest articles

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