Thursday 14 February 2008 

Ebony's 98 Not Out Wins Tight Finish For Port Adelaide

Ebony Rainford-Brent scored a superbly crafted unbeaten 98 for her club side Port Adelaide to help them win the most recent round of their club championship.

This week she sends us more insight into life in the Aussie Women's Cricket Leagues.

"I started the week pretty fuming about getting out for seven in my first innings, so my house mate Dan and I made a pact to get in the nets every day. We were on a mixture of concrete, astro and grass nets, whatever we could get our hands on for our nets version of the Ashes. On top of that, I attended club trainings – yes, plural: there are two per week, which you don't get at that level in England, one a net and one a fielding practice. It was quite enjoyable to be able to focus on the skills in that way.

"The game quickly came around on Sunday and I was feeling prepared. When I arrived at the ground and had a look around it was like it should be: a good wicket, fast outfield and a clear sky.

"We fielded first, like last week, and we kept them to 203 – including a direct-hit run-out from me - which I thought would be a comfortable chase. Wrong. I was batting at three again and was once more at the crease early following a short-but-sweet start. There were a few slight concerns about there not being a scoreboard, my other house mate Jenny tells me this is the norm though us 'Poms' have no idea why.

"I approached the innings being a bit more patient this time and got off to a good partnership with Chuck. I was feeling pretty comfortable then we had a collapse of 5 for about 20, which obviously left the situation much more awkward. Then we got down to the last wicket and needed a daunting 49 between us.

"When I decided it was time to start hitting out I realised the benefit of being in Australia rather than at home. You can practise in the nets all you like, but there's no substitute for the real deal.

"Before coming out I had been practising shots in pressure situations over extra cover, midwicket and cow corner and now I was able to milk it (no pun intended). In the game the task was made more difficult as we were never 100 per cent sure what we were chasing but we got there in the end. I finished on 98 not out, very happy… but the Surrey academy director Gareth Townsend texted to say it should have been a ton.

"And he wants me to pay back a run for every pound the flight cost Surrey. Challenge on.

"As I'm getting into the groove out here I'm noticing more and more differences in cricket which could be incorporated at home. The first is free-hits: I've never played them at club, county or Super Fours level but it is something we do at the top so maybe they should be filtered through the English system.

"Batting on is allowed at the end of the games even after a result to get extra points and practice. I think that's a great idea because it gives people the chance to continue to work on match scenarios.

"The state women play with coloured clothing and white balls, so if our county sides were to do the same then that would smooth the transition to international level. White balls are different as they lose swing quickly, which is obviously easier for batting, but the bowlers need to think even more.

"Off the pitch there's been some progress with getting the women's game on television, and terrestrial at that. Women's cricket hasn't been on TV in Australia since the 2005 World Cup final, while we're lucky that the ECB have a deal where Sky must show at least two of our games a year.

"But on Sunday, Channel Nine showed highlights of the Twenty20 at the MCG and it was pleasing to see my name up there in lights, although they missed the 'Rainford' bit off, ahem.

"I even made it on the screen in person – well, if you had taped it and pressed 'Pause' at the correct nanosecond you could see a blurry me running out with a drink!

"Seriously though there were some decent skills on show and apparently even that one twenty-over match helped to bring more converts to the game. We just need more publicity but things are heading in the right direction."

Ebony Rainford-Brent/Jim White

Cricket World.com – For all the latest women’s cricket news, reports, live scores; broadband radio and TV; free audio commentary; blogs and exclusive interviews

More from Cricket World