Sport means many different things to many different people. In the West, what is meant to be an entertaining pursuit tends to veer between two extremes: a serious, methodical affair, analysed in severe and sombre tones, and a raucous booze-up. Watch a South Asian nation, however, and the celebratory, festival-like atmosphere is a spectacle unlike any other.
• Australia 277-9; Sussex 220 – Australia win by 57 runs
• Marcus Stoinis’s steady hundred sets up victory
There are some sporting spectacles where crowds are attracted more for the occasion than the sport itself. This one-day tour match between Sussex and Australia, innocuous enough when the fixture was first scheduled, was one such occasion. Sometimes they are drawn to the presence of a great player, or one on the precipice of a major landmark. This match, however, was notable not for who was here but who was not.
Isabelle Westbury compares the English recreational game with its Australian counterpart, with the help of Daniel Bell-Drummond of Kent and The Grade Cricketer’s Sam Perry
During an Ashes series, every aspect of English and Australian life becomes a fevered competition, from how imaginative the crowd chants are, to who serves the best coffee*. As predictably as Nathan Lyon taking Moeen Ali’s wicket, every level of cricket in each country is scrutinised, often becoming the saviour of, or scapegoat for, a series win or loss. This time county cricket bore the brunt, its bloated 18-team set-up deemed inferior to the She eld Shield, which is played between just six states. inevitably club cricket, the next layer down, is also dissected – and compared. for many young english county players, grade cricket, the highest form of club cricket in each australian state, is a rite of passage. it is an opportunity to play bruising cricket in a warm climate at a standard often compared to some of the second division county teams.
Isabelle Westbury reports on how the ‘British’ duo were signed as replacements with great success
There is something about defying expectations that suits the English. Label them favourites and they self-destruct. Make it clear from the outset that they are very much second best, however, and the English thrive.
The extent to which county cricket is clearly ignored by pundits and decision-makers is damning, says Isabelle Westbury.
The 2017 Women’s World Cup marks another sea change in attitudes to women’s sport in the UK, writes BBC commentator and former Middlesex Women’s skipper Isabelle Westbury.
BBC Radio 5 Live – Sport Bulletin: ICC Women’s World Cup 2017
England v Australia
9 July 2017
Somerset County Ground, Taunton
Sky Sport NZ/Fox Sports Australia: ICC Women’s World Cup 2017
Australia v New Zealand
2 July 2017
Gloucestershire County Ground, Bristol