Heather Knight is grateful for any opportunity to cover her spikes during the lockdown, but fortunately she can’t stop thinking about the neglected female cricketer, Rachel Steinberg writes.
For the England captain, COVID-19 completely outlined the inequalities that existed in his sport. As the competition stalled, everyone finally began to see the full, alarming picture.
“I think the epidemic has really highlighted how different boards around the world treat and respect women’s cricket,” she said.
“I think some people really supported the women’s game. The ECB was involved, but I think some boards ignored it and really preferred men’s cricket.”
“I think people are more willing to talk about [the differences] and highlight them now and hopefully address them.
“And this is something that, in terms of women’s sport, we can continue to be really positive and hopefully do something to reduce that inequality and bring the playing field to a little more level.”
Knight was speaking from his hotel room in New Zealand at the Women in Sport Digital Conference before his tour of England’s limited overs.
The 30-year-old acknowledged the financial pressure on boards, but said the lack of play opportunities for women was a “real shame”, especially for those like India.
Unlike England, who faced the West Indies in September, the WV Raman team has not seen an international opponent since losing to Australia in the T20 World Cup final in March.
England were set to compete for the title, but a pouring rain washed away their semifinal – with no hope of flying the trophy.
It was a frustrating day for Knight’s team, who were later removed from the rapidly changing situation in the UK. Boris Johnson announces severe restrictions on public life just 18 days later, according to Lockdown One.
“It gave me a lot of perspective in the beginning,” Knight recalled.
“It made me quickly forget about the exit of the semifinals. Obviously when you realize all the important things happening in the world … the more important things that are going on.”
Knight took only two weeks of rest and reflection before itching to get back on the pitch with his teammates, but sanctions wouldn’t allow that. It’s painful.
He recalled: “I think the motivation to train is sometimes hard to master when we don’t know what’s going on, when we can play the next cricket, and you don’t know what’s going on.”
“I definitely felt disconnected from the team, and having those connections with the people around you because you play and train.
“And at the time I was leading discussions on pay cuts that we could take, and we took … that was something I never thought I’d do as a leader.”
In the summer, the ECB moved Knight’s team to a bubble in Derby ahead of five T20 matches against the West Indies. The Plymouth native was soon struggling to cope with a very relative epidemic: work from home.
Of course, the house for an elite athlete was a hotel room attached to the Inkora County grounds. Six months ago, Knight didn’t know when she would return to cricket; Now she couldn’t escape it.
He said: “I love to travel, get out and do things a little differently. Sometimes I try to keep my mind off cricket.
“But in the Derby you wake up in your travel room, open the curtains, and you can only see the ground. If you want to go for a walk, all you have to do is walk in circles around the cricket pitch you are going to play later that evening. ”
Finally, another sentiment trumped inertia: gratitude.
Knight explained: “Perhaps the positives of that period were realized, moreover, how fragile it is to be a professional athlete and how easily it can be taken away from you.
“This is a common trend among the other girls on the team. They looked a little out of cricket because you knew how quickly they could take it, and this is the fickle world of professional sports we sign up for.”
Once again confined to a hotel room, Knight was acutely aware — so many women would still like to be in his shoes.