March 24, 2009

Jenny Roesler at the 2009 Women's World Cup

Celebrating the end of World Cup in Sydney

Jenny Roesler



The final had long been won, but one England player was still on the pitch, practising her batting for fun with a group of mates. Ebony Rainford-Brent, the talented allrounder-turned-batsman, typifies the keenness of her side and the competition for places - also demonstrated in the dropping of vice-captain Nicky Shaw for the final before her fairytale reversal of fortune with four wickets and 17 not out.

The floodlights even came on to light up the winning girls’ smiles, by which time a disconsolate New Zealand team had slipped away, only to emerge brighter and ready to celebrate a good tournament at the teams’ hotel later on.

There the England girls celebrated in the piano bar where only the night before, fourth-placed Australia had bashed the keys merrily and heartily sang their woes away. It also acted as a goodbye tribute to Leonie Coleman and 23-year-old Emma Sampson, who had announced their retirement to their team only hours before.

Sampson can yet come back. Whether she will is a different story, something that I mulled over with a fringe Australia player whom I bumped into on the ferry to Manly (“Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care” according to the old advertisement) the next day. We both concluded that she was brave and wished her well on her travels.

Manly – named after the Aboriginal people encountered their by Captain Arthur Phillip in praise of their stature – was well worth the trip, with wide sandy beaches and ripping surf aplenty. It is understood to be the first place where the no-daylight-bathing rule was defied in 1902, even if the culprit William Gocher had donned a full neck-to-toe costume.

“Go to Manly and then work out a way to move there and work there,” a smitten English friend, who I had also bumped into in Sydney, told me. It is picturesque for sure and, surprisingly, much larger than Bondi, which I had also visited earlier in the day.

Bondi was unexpectedly quaint in comparison, particularly with its old, white pavilion and colonial-style buildings. As the sun beat down in the early morning, I even saw an Iceberg – one of the members of the famous swimming club which swims in all manner of cold, winter waters. The water was even chilly yesterday, despite warm sunshine, and the warm people.

On the bus there I got chatting to an artist – Alena Kennedy - who happened to be exhibiting in the Bondi gallery, so I went to view her talented work. On the way back, the driver started talking to me and turned out to be from the Barossa, where my husband’s family are from. He knew of them, but no more, but still randomly gave me a phone number to look up his mum next time I was there. He was still talking to me as his relief driver took over and had closed the doors.

And so my visit to Sydney ended as it had begun, with friendly and helpful people, plenty of sunshine – and some excellent cricket in between.

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Jenny Roesler is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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