Payne proves women’s cricket has a place

2009-05-21 00:00

A WOMEN’S and girls’ cricket festival is taking place from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Maritzburg Oval in Alexandra Park on Saturday and promises to give the sport a boost in the midlands.

Cherri Cannon, one of the driving forces behind women’s cricket, said the cost would be R50 per team of six or R10 for individuals with cooldrinks and equipment supplied to the players. “This festival is intended for all girls and women,” said Cannon. “Whether they have played before or not doesn’t matter.”

For inspiration on what women’s cricket can give you, aspiring young girl cricketers need look no further than Merchiston schoolteacher and KZN Inland Women’s Cricketer of the Year, Philippa “Pippa” Payne.

Numerous coaches have helped Payne with various aspects of her game including Eston-based English professional Paul Atkins, who currently coaches the KZN Inland women’s team.

“I was also influenced by players such as Charlotte Edwards, the current World Cup-winning England captain, whom I had the privilege of playing alongside when I played club cricket in England. I went on to play county cricket for Hertfordshire from 2000 to 2003/4. Probably a highlight of my time in England was going to Lord’s to watch an ODI between England and Australia,” Payne said.

“Watching one of Australia’s best fast bowlers, Catherine Fitzpatrick, at one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world, Lord’s, will forever be etched in my mind as one of my most memorable moments in cricket. It is so important to me that young girls and potential players also have role models and are able to aspire to greater heights. Raising the profile of women’s cricket will do this.”

Watching Payne, you quickly notice that this cricketer has a real hunger to perform, whether it is scoring runs, fielding the ball or bowling five maidens in a spell.

“I always want to make a contribution and I realise that the key to being able to do that, is hard work and perseverance,” Payne said.

As to her first introduction to the game, Payne followed the path of just about every male cricketer.

“I have been playing backyard cricket all my life. When attending primary school in Pietermaritzburg, I was not allowed to play cricket. My ‘official’ cricket career began in 1994 when Telepost established a women’s team in Pietermaritzburg. I was later selected to play for KwaZulu-Natal and have never looked back. I took a sabbatical for a few years in the late nineties, but soon started up again in 2000 when I arrived in London on a working holiday. My inspirations include my maid Doris, who competed in her first Comrades Marathon last year at the age of 42. I look at the obstacles she has faced and it gives me hope and the belief that when we set our minds to something, anything is possible.”

Payne says the biggest frustration in the women’s game at the moment is trying to find ways to attract new players. The union is working hard at developing women’s cricket and she believes that the future of women’s cricket in KZN Inland is bright.

“The women’s game is very competitive at provincial level and KZN Inland have made their mark as one of the more competitive teams in the country. We are looking to improve on the progress we made last season and are aiming high. Plans for training in the off-season are in place, and keeping up fitness levels is an area we will be focusing on.”

With SA cricketers coming through regularly now who have the desire to enjoy and succeed at the sport, the women’s version of the game is set to continue to grow as it enjoys more local, national and international coverage. And if they have any semblance of the passion Payne has, it shouldn’t be too long before South Africa win the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

Any aspiring young girls’ cricketers who want to know more about women’s cricket can contact Payne at Merchiston Preparatory School.

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