Women’s Sports Column


2-8 January 2016

This week sees plenty of news from cricket, netball, tennis rugby union and….darts!

There’s good and bad in this week’s cricket news.  Let’s get the bad over with first.  Undeniably Chris Gayle was completely out of line in his propositioning of journalist Mel McLaughlin on live TV during the BBL coverage this week.  She was there to do a job and he had no respect for that whatsoever.  Anyone who thinks she should have been flattered, amused or in any way pleased that this took place has no idea what it’s like for a female to be reporting on sport.

Right, enough of that, let’s get on to the good stuff.  The England squad for their tour of South Africa was announced this week.  Sarah Taylor will be aiming to win her 100th ODI cap in the first match on 12 February.  The only slight surprise inclusion in the squad of 15 is Tammy Beaumont, who hasn’t played for England since 2014 and will take part in the T20s only.

It will be the first tour for new head coach, Mark Robinson and points from the three ODIs will go towards qualification for the 2017 ICC Women’s Championship.  Currently England sit fifth with South Africa fourth.

And more good news is that BBC Test Match Special will deliver full commentary on all of the matches!

This is the schedule:

7.2.16 1st ODI Sahara Willowmoore Park, Benoni
12.2.16 2nd ODI SuperSport Park, Centurion
14.2.16 3rd ODI Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
18.2.16 1st T20I Boland Park, Paarl
19.2.16 2nd T20I Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town
21.2.16 3rd T20I Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

As reported last week, the WBBL is thriving in its first year.  Audiences have been excellent, both at the grounds and on television (if only we had something to watch/listen to here….).  As it stands, Sydney Thunder are top after 10 games with 16 points, Hobart Hurricanes second on 14 having played a game more with Brisbane Heat on the same points in third having played 13 games.  Sydney Sixers currently bring up the rear with a mere four points, but they can still make up places as they have only played eight games.  More news next week!

Netball is continuing its resurgence in popularity as Sky announced January as its Netball Month.  The new Superleague starts on 30 January with the “Vitality Netball Superleague Super Saturday”, which will be held at the Genting Arena in Birmingham and televised live on Sky.  All eight Superleague teams will be in action.

Before this, however, England play a three test series against world champions Australia.  Again televised by Sky, the matches are at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 20 January, and the Copper Box in London on 22 and 24 January.

If you’ve not watched professional netball before, please take this opportunity to do so.  It’s fast, exciting and skilful.

After splitting with her coach, Diego Veronelli, last month, Heather Watson is currently being coached by Judy Murray.  Murray will be working with Watson up to and through the Australian Open later this month.  There is no indication whether the relationship will continue beyond this point though, so watch this space for more news.

British number three and world number 122, Naomi Broady, has had an excellent, if controversial week.  She won the best match of her career in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland, when she beat world number 16, Ana Ivanovic 7-5 6-4.  Then came the controversy.  She beat Jelena Ostapenko 4-6 7-6 7-5, but there was an angry exchange with her opponent when Ostapenko appeared to throw her racquet at a ball boy.  She claimed it was accidental but Broady was not convinced, and told both Ostapenko and the umpire as much.   Broady thought her opponent should have been disqualified and was clearly upset by the incident.  However, she showed her steel to win the third set and take the match, although the arguments continued at the end of match handshake at the net.  After a good two rounds, Broady was beaten in the third by American Sloane Stephens, 7-6 6-3.

More good news on the media coverage front – this time in rugby union.  Sky has announced that it will show the final of the English Women’s Premiership live.  The line-ups for the play-off semi-finals have been decided already with Richmond facing Worcester and Saracens taking on Lichfield.

The final kicks off at 5.30pm on Sunday 17 January.

More brownie points for Sky, but begs the question, what the heck is everyone else doing???

And finally, darts – yes, darts!  Not often I get to mention it and not often you get to see women’s darts covered anywhere, but the BDO championships at Frimley Green have reached the semi-final stage and the BBC are going a great job in covering the women’s event.

The semi-final line-up is:

Deta Hedman (Eng) v Ann-Louise Peters (Den)
Trina Gulliver (Eng) v Aileen De Graaf (Ned)

Long-time number one Gulliver beat current champion Lisa Ashton in the quarter-finals and is looking for her 10th title.  Peters hit the highest ever women’s checkout of 160 in her quarter-final win over Zoe Jones.  The semi-finals will be from 5.30pm on 8 January with the final at the weekend.  What else can I say, but quote the best darts commentator ever, Sid Waddell,

“There’s only one word for that – magic darts.”



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