Date: 27th Nov 2021
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Date: 15th September 2021


Regional Winners of the Grassroots INSPIRED TO PLAY AWARD

By LIVERPOOL ECHO Cricket Correspondent Tom Evans

Sefton Park Women’s Frankie Morris couldn’t have asked for a better season.

The club won three trophies, saw numbers at training rocket by almost 300% - and to cap it all, Morris has just been honoured with an award for helping others to get into the game.

Part of the prize for the Lancashire Grassroots Cricket ‘Inspired to Play’ award was tickets to the third day’s play at the Old Trafford Test, so not everything has gone quite to plan… but for Morris, the journey was always more important than the end result.

“We made our objectives at the beginning of the season, and the first one was to have fun,” she said.

“The second one was to develop from softball into hardball; and the third one was winning - in that order.

“It was really important that we created an atmosphere where everyone felt welcome, whether they were any good at cricket or not. So we’ve always tried to make our Wednesday night coaching inclusive and fun.”

Part of Morris’s role has been to scout Sefton Park itself for potential new players.

She added: “We sometimes see people around the park playing cricket for fun; we see women playing and we make an effort to go up to them and ask if they want to do this a bit more seriously.

“And just being out and about has helped a lot of our team with their mental health and enjoying themselves. 

“In March and April, you could tell people were really hungry to get outside and active and do something, and we were there for them.

“The season has been incredible.”

Comparing this year with the previous one is not exactly like-for-like - however, it’s still impressive that numbers on a Wednesday night have grown from eight in 2020 to 30 this summer.

Part of that will be due to Morris’s recruitment work in the park - and part of it will be due to cricket’s big talking point of the summer, the Hundred.

Like it, loathe it, or make sure you tell everyone you’re ignoring it… one thing that can’t be overlooked is the new tournament’s impact on the profile of women’s domestic cricket.

Morris’s view is unequivocal. “Having women’s cricket on terrestrial television is fantastic for the sport, and really showed a lot of people that the quality is very high.

“We’ve been a beneficiary of that - we’re getting calls from girls saying ‘I saw this over the summer, how do I get involved’. You can’t underestimate the benefit.”

Sefton women’s successful season - they went undefeated until Ramsbottom got the better of their Lancashire T20 knockout semi-final last Sunday - is something that Morris is keen to build on. But she knows in order for Sefton to improve, the general standard of local women’s cricket has to get higher as well.

That’s something the Liverpool Competition is keen to push for, with an increased focus on women’s and girls’ cricket in recent years.

Morris said: “We did ourselves proud.

“But even with all that success, what’s really important is that people want to come and play for us, and that it’s fun.

“We don’t want to stop. We’ve got a couple of U15 players but not enough for an U15s side, and that’s what we really want to do next season, to go out into schools to get girls thinking about cricket.

“But we’re nothing without competition. 

“It’s really important that all the clubs get better. Bootle were the team to beat this year and that was our target, to raise our game - when one team gets better, you think to yourself ‘well, how can we get better?’.”

Schools are the key - there, as Morris points out, clubs will find a captive audience of children full of energy and promise but who maybe haven’t had the chance to try cricket yet.

“PE teachers can’t do every sport under the sun,” she said. “We want to do little taster sessions for schools to try, and if they’ve got girls who like it, they can join us.

“Girls who are good at hockey tend to be very good at cricket, but there’s all kinds of sports that lend themselves to cricket.

“I’m a dancer by background - the co-ordination helps. Netballers tend to be great fielders.

“So there’s hockey players and netball players looking for a summer sport - we need to tell them, this is the one.”

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