Guardian reporter KAY TAYLOR was invited to Leyland Cricket Club to try her hand at the sport. Here’s how she got on...
I’ve never found myself writing for the sports section of the paper before.
In fact, sports reporter Oliver Smith jokes that I get a nose bleed when I go as far back as the sports pages in the paper.
But this week, I was invited to try my hand at cricket at Fox Lane Sports and Social Club, as Leyland Cricket Club are trying to encourage more girls and ladies to sign up.
The closest I’ve got to playing cricket is when we used to do rounders at school (something else which the boys in the office poke fun at me for, because cricket’s nothing like rounders, apparently).
I’m not very sporty at all, but soon found myself learning about dollys, flannels, flippers, tickles, and my favourite, googlies.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, as the purpose of my visit to Fox Lane was to practice a few simple techniques.
I started with a lighter bat and ball than usually used, and got all the gear on ready to hit my first ball.
Arwel Pozzi, one of the club’s junior coaches, taught me how to hold the bat and how to stand, and then threw a few balls in my direction from a short distance away.
I managed to hit them all, to my complete surprise, and he then explained how to improve my technique.
We practiced that for a while as he moved further away each time, and threw the balls harder and faster.
I missed a couple but on the whole I don’t think I did too bad (the balls didn’t really go in any particular direction when I hit them, but I felt myself getting better and more confident each time).
Arwel briefly explained the rules of the game and I did a few runs before moving on to bowling.
It took me a little longer to grasp the best way to do an overhead bowl, and I suppose you could say I don’t help the ‘girls can’t throw’ argument!
But again, I seemed to get a bit better the more I practiced, and really enjoyed that too.
Arwel told me that when they are training junior players, they don’t like to pigeon-hole them into one role, so it was good for me to try my hand at a few different skills.
He also said it’s good to get kids into the sport when they’re fairly young, as it teaches discipline, manners and respect, but he added that people of all ages can join the sport with little or no experience beforehand.
In fact, they have a popular ladies and girls training night once a week, and people who have no experience (like me) are being urged to go along and give it a go.
I spoke to Janine Wragg, whose daughter Pheobe plays for Fox Lane, and Janine herself has joined in a couple of times.
Phoebe, 12, was spotted by a coach when she was playing in a primary school tournament a few years ago, and coaches from Fox Lane (who are mostly volunteers) visit schools in the area in an attempt to encourage children to give cricket a try.
Janine says she likes the friendly atmosphere at the club, and tells me it’s good fun and very social.
She also said it’s good for women to play against other women instead of men, especially if they don’t feel too strong or confident when they first start out.
On a Friday night, it’s the junior training sessions (boys and girls), and the families enjoy a couple of beverages and a barbecue if the weather’s good, which is another bonus, she told me.
Monday night, from 6pm unti 7.30pm, is the girls and ladies training night, for women and youngsters of all ages.
If you’re interested in joining the girls and ladies, just turn up at Fox Lane on a Monday evening and see for yourself if it’s something you’d like to give a go.
I’d never given it a second thought before, and didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, so I would highly recommend it.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, there’s also a fun ladies-only practice session and game being held at Vernon Caurus Sports and Social Club in Factory Lane, Penwortham, from 6pm.