Social Inclusion Week – My First Duck
In honour of Social Inclusion Week, our staff are sharing their own stories of inclusion. Writing about her first duck in cricket is Kristee Jolly.
As a child, there were only two ways you could get me remotely interested in cricket. The first is beach cricket because I knew I could spend most of my time “fielding” in the water. The second was a Kanga Cricket Carnival at school, on the proviso that at the end of spending all day in the sun I knew I would be getting a Milo sachet that I could eat (yes, without milk) before I got home. This was because I knew full well my mum would not have allowed me to do that at home!
Fast forward to 2020 and I am five games into my second season in the Perth Scorchers Women’s League with Quinns Rock Cricket Club, trading the beach for grass and minus the Milo sachets. To read more about my journey to playing cricket, I’d encourage you to read this article, but today I would like to share a more recent cricket story.
As I was catching the train home from work on a Friday afternoon, I checked my messages to see that two of my teammates had been nominated to play in the Men’s G Grade side. Maybe it was the Friday vibes talking but I quickly responded “Do they need extras?”
My coach typed back “You’ll be fine if you want to play” and my captain jumped in with “Come on you can do it Kristee! It’s a 40 over one-day game!”
Reality started to kick in… could I make the jump from 20 to 40 overs? Would I really be fine?
“I’ll be fine,” I told myself “They’ll play me twelfth man, if I am lucky I’ll get to field”
What happened on that Saturday afternoon, was far from what I expected and I want to share it with the world. The actions of my new found teammates and the opposition reminded me of how the little things lead to that big picture experience of social inclusion.
It started with trust in my ability. I was supported by my coach and my captain to put my hand up and say I can do this. It was followed by a friendly welcome. Although I had only met one member of this Men’s team (my coach), the very first face I saw in the carpark at the ground smiled and thanked me for helping the team out. This experience immediately eased my nerves and reminded me I belong here.
The friendly faces and welcomes continued as the rest of the team arrived. Our team captain lost the toss and we were sent in to bat. The faith in my ability was further cemented when I was told I would be batting ninth. My nerves quickly returned… yes, this was really happening!
The next chapter of this story is a testament to the opposing team. When the seventh wicket fell and I walked out to the crease, my mind was racing with questions
Will they slow it down because I am a girl or will they not?
The answer was the latter – the pace of the bowler did not change. This was the fastest bowler I have ever faced. When I’ve told people this story they’ve asked me “why didn’t they slow it down for you?” but to be honest, the equality in bowling pace meant so much more to me than someone thinking I didn’t have the ability to face their bowling.
I managed to block the first ball I faced but, on the second I achieved my very first duck – clean-bowled. As I walked off the field the opposition acknowledge me for my bravery and reminded me that whilst it was the first time I’d played men’s cricket, it was their bowler’s first time bowling to a woman.
Wanting to redeem myself from my rubbish batting performance, I was excited to field. My captain placed me in the position of cover, a position I quickly discovered was going to be a bit of a ball magnet for the next 40 overs. I felt so grateful that my captain gave me the opportunity to contribute in the field, which quickly resulted in a spark of confidence. I was running, diving and throwing the ball like never before and earnt myself the nickname ‘Rocket’ from my teammates. I was even given the opportunity to bowl three overs, finishing with a tidy 0/22.
The result of the game was not in our favour, but the experience for me was something I have not stopped talking about. I recognise that I am in a position of privilege that accessing this sport presented limited barriers for me. However, every barrier that could have been in place to prevent me from bringing my best self to this game was knocked down by my teammates and even the opposition.
We should never underestimate the power of the little things… a smile and a friendly welcome or providing an opportunity to someone can be life-changing.
I’d like to conclude this story with the most powerful moment I experienced on this day. Something that makes me incredibly emotional but equally proud of where inclusion in sports is heading.
After I walked off the field after my attempted batting performance, I was taking my pads off when a young girl approached me. She was 9 years old, at the game with her Dad, a committee member who came down to the game to support the team. With a big grin on her face, she said “You batted really well” and ran back to her Dad standing on the boundary.”
This moment reminds me that we all have the ability to be leaders. That someone, somewhere might see us take a step into an environment that they didn’t believe was possible. But because we took that step, we gave them a glimmer of hope for the future that maybe one day they can too.
I am proud to belong to the Quinns Rock Cricket Club and I am even prouder that my club supported me and my two female teammates to become the first woman cricketers to play in a men’s team in our club’s history.
I am proud of my very first duck.