Okay, I know that this has all gone a bit ‘cricketty’ this month, but to be honest with you that is precisely how I used to spend my summers when I was growing up – playing cricket, reading about cricket and watching cricket. In my mind, summers as a child were always sunny and warm, it never rained and if it was just before 11am, it was time for the BBC to play some ‘Soul Limbo’ .
When I was at school, we would, every now and then, get a visit from a cricket coach. On one occasion it was Alan Oakman. Apparently on another it was Eddie Hemmings, although I don’t specifically remember that and it wouldn’t have seemed all that special to me because I used to deliver his Sunday papers. The one who came most often, though, was one of Mr Tedstone’s children.
He had three children. Geoff had a short career in professional cricket, playing 50 odd games for Warwickshire in the 1980s. I always thought that Roger had done the same, but apparently not (at least according to the information that I have been able to find). But it was the third who would come and coach us, tell us when we did something wrong, try and correct our technical flaws and answer our questions.
Janet was, I think, the apple of Mr Tedstone’s eye. I do not doubt that he was very proud of what his two boys achieved, but that his eldest child and only daughter was not only a match for them but went on to play 12 Tests and 38 one day games for her country.
More significantly, from my point of view, her presence meant that I never grew up with the sort of prejudices which so many other people have against women playing what they deem a ‘male’ sport. I’ve coached women’s cricket teams (and, I must add, had some of my best nights out with them) and rugby teams and loved every minute of it. It is the same game, played a different way – and you’ve not lived until you’ve seen someone tackled by the ponytail.
So, not only did I have an international as my first coach, the fact that it was a woman made a big difference to my perception of life. It is why if Robin Marlar were on fire, I’d be adding gasolene. It is why I am still spitting feathers – 6 years on – that after the 2005 Ashes wins every England player got an honour and only one of the women did.
Oh, and it is why every sexist comment I make is only ever in jest. Honest.