Wisden Cricket Monthly: Where is cricket’s Marcus Rashford?

Features, Print, Sport

With athletes increasingly making their voices heard on issues that transcend their sport, Isabelle Westbury asks why cricketers continue to stay within the boundary rope.

About halfway through 2020’s bizarre summer of sport, athlete activism was contagious. A flurry of fixtures were postponed in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as it swept through the US and beyond. Professional footballers in the UK routinely ‘took the knee’. And then there was cricket.

At first, there was no question that England’s men, alongside the West Indies, would take the knee before each match of their Test series. But as the summer progressed, with visits from Pakistan and Australia, neither England, nor their opponents, did so. The ECB instead issued a vague commitment to the overall “inclusion and diversity space”. An attempt to please all, to avoid conflict, to detach politics from sport.

The full version of this article can be found in the magazine, Wisden Cricket Monthly, January 2021 (Issue 39)

The Guardian: The lack of diversity in cricket journalism holds back the sport

Features, Print, Sport

While coverage is shaped by mostly male, white and privately educated journalists, it will not engage large sections of society

By Isabelle Westbury for Wisden Cricket Monthly

When lockdown started and sport stopped, cricket journalists were provided with a unique opportunity to look in on themselves. Nostalgia replaced live action and sport’s writers, and talkers, turned to what they knew and where they came from. It confirmed, in stark terms, an industry that does not reflect the UK population, whether it be in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, education, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness or geography.

The full version of this article can be found in The Guardian, published 11 November 2020, and the Wisden Cricket Monthly, November 2020 (Issue 36)

Wisden Cricket Monthly: The forgotten foot soldiers of the IPL

Features, Print, Sport

As India continues to struggle under the weight of the pandemic, the United Arab Emirates came to the rescue by agreeing to host this year’s IPL. But while fans lap up the cricket, and financial stakeholders continue to enjoy the tournament’s riches, there is a darker side to the arrangement.

The IPL has begun, and it’s brilliant. We only need turn to England’s own unexpected summer of cricket to understand the power and respite of sport in moments like this. 

But just as the glitzy razzmatazz of the IPL provides us with the entertainment and escape we so desperately crave, the tournament’s staging in the United Arab Emirates also offers a stark contrast. A contrast between some of India’s most highly paid, well-looked-after superstars and some of its most poorly paid, exploited citizens, without whom the tournament could not have taken place: Indian migrants to the UAE.

The full version of this article can be found in the magazine, Wisden Cricket Monthly, October 2020 (Issue 36)

Medium: More Johns than women

Features, Print, Sport

There is a real lack of female representation in our sports coverage right now. And it’s a big problem.

Even when there is no sport. Indeed, especially because there is no sport. Because women are disproportionately affected.

Across the sports pages of last Sunday’s nationals, eight Johns wrote articles, as did four Neils(!), and a grand total of seven women.

Of 166 sports articles (I know…) just three were on women’s sport (<2%).

The full version of this thread first featured on Twitter, on 25 April 2020, and can be accessed  on Meidum here.

The Guardian: T20 Blast Final – Ben Cox wallops Worcestershire past Sussex to T20 Blast glory

Features, Match Reports, Print, Sport, The Guardian, The Guardian / The Observer

Rapids chase down Sharks’ 157 with nine balls to spare
Cox smashes winning runs and finishes 46 not out

Given the day out had begun almost eight hours previously, it was a show of restraint that we were a full 15 minutes into the final before we saw the first conga line. A similarly disciplined Worcestershire bowling performance meant the Finals Day debutants were crowned champions of the Vitality Blast, chasing down Sussex’s 157 with nine balls to spare.

The Guardian: T20 Blast Final – Gathering of the unfashionable proving more popular than ever

Features, Match Reports, Print, Sport, The Guardian, The Guardian / The Observer

Edgbaston will be full for a Finals Day that promises to show some of the game’s less heralded sides at their Twenty20 best

Surrey have already been crowned county champions, England have wrapped up a Test series victory over India and the football season is back in full flow. Now, three weeks after the Vitality Blast’s quarter-finals, Somerset, the Worcestershire Rapids, Lancashire Lightning and the Sussex Sharks descend on Birmingham on Saturday for Finals Day.

The Guardian: Royal London final – Forty years of hurt, and Kent will still be dreaming

Features, Match Reports, Print, Sport, The Guardian, The Guardian / The Observer

Hampshire 330-7; Kent 269. Hampshire win by 61 runs
Sam Billings scores 75 off 60 but four run-outs cost Kent

Forty years of hurt, and Kent will still be dreaming. While England’s footballers look to rectify 52 years without a trophy, Kent’s last one-day triumph was in 1978 and the wait continues. A Rilee Rossouw century, four run-outs and an unbeaten 75 by their former captain Sam Northeast denied Kent a title once more, with Hampshire ultimately easing to a 61-run victory.

The Guardian: Hampshire stars face Kent’s home-grown underdogs in Royal London final

Features, Print, Sport, The Guardian / The Observer

First Lord’s final between the sides since 1992
James Vince and Heino Kuhn have been prolific run-scorers

The human interest stories for Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final are varied and many. Kent’s 42-year-old Darren Stevens will be negotiating the Lord’s slope in what is his 21st year of first-class cricket. The former Kent captain Sam Northeast, a Hampshire winter signing, will be going up against his restless successor Sam Billings, who, in a quiet season, has a point to prove.

The Guardian: Australia begin new era with low-key win over Sussex at convivial Hove

Match Reports, Print, Sport, The Guardian, The Guardian / The Observer

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.

The Roar: Taking the Mickey – Pakistan’s perennial plot twist

Features, Print, Sport, The Roar

A lot has been made of England’s transformation since their beleaguered 2015 World Cup campaign Down Under.

Back then, their 50-over tournament came to a fitting culmination as England scraped a win in a rain-ridden dead rubber against minnows Afghanistan. In effect, their revival started as all good English revivals do – drowning in a beer-swilled haze of good intentions.