July 30, 2012

South Africa in England, 2012

Time for a ladies tea

Firdose Moonda
Tea time in the Ladies' Pavilion at New Road, Worcestershire v South Africans, Tour match, July 27, 2012
The cakes at New Road are as famous as the cricket  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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It's not often that something in cricket is done with ladies in mind. While the women's game and interest around it has grown, it will be many years before it is regarded the same way as the men's. For now, the participation of female representatives remains limited.

Often I am the only woman journalist on a full length tour, although I sometimes meet girlfriends along the way. At home, Jenny Bernstein of the South African Press Association is my BFF, in India ESPNcricinfo's Sharda Ugra and I chat over tea and in England I have bumped into, lunched and dined with Elizabeth Ammon and Sarah Ansell of SPIN cricket and Alison Mitchell of the BBC. But in places like New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, I've flown solo.

Don't think of that as a complaint. I've been lucky to have been accepted by my male colleagues as one of the boys and most of the time, there's no-one I'd rather be. But on the days when we go from eight hours of working on the cricket to four hours of watching rugby in the pub to endless conversations about golf swings, football leagues and boxing matches, it can get a little lonely.

With that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when Ms Ammon told me that in Worcester, I'd experience something a little different - The Ladies' Pavilion. I have been never been to a cricket ground with something that sounds so exclusively feminine.

I expected a stand with seats filled with frocks and sunhats and was pleased to see I was wrong. The Ladies' Pavilion, just like any other stand, has seats for everyone and its "women's only" touches are subtle. The seats inside are reserved for ladies, although men are allowed to sit there. The locals told me that men are only asked to move if a female member wants to sit there.

For most of the day it looks the same as any part of the ground except as tea approaches and the home-made cakes come out for sale. On the first day of the tour match the queue to purchase a slice and a cuppa snaked down the steps of the pavilion entrance and almost fully around the front of it.

It was worth standing for the feast at the top. A selection of baked goods too numerous to name were available for £1 a pop and 50p for tea, coffee or a cold drink. I settled on a chocolate marble, because it was the cake my late grandmother baked best, and I could well have been imagining it, but it did not taste all that different to hers.

The time spent there was short, because everyone wanted a piece of the pie, but unique. I spotted one of the lady members crocheting while keeping an eye on the game and heard another complain that the long line of people was obstructing her view and she had missed a wicket. The walls were adorned with pictures of previous lady members, one of whom served tea and cake for 40 years and had established herself as firmly as anyone else at Worcestershire County Cricket Ground.

In some places, like South Africa, one-off Ladies' Days are accompanied by a big fuss, because they happen so rarely. But to see ladies occupy such a permanently special place in a cricket club made me quietly pleased. They even have their own parking spaces reserved for them in the ground, an indication that both them and their pavilion, will be around for as long as anything else.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Syed Ammar Saeed on (August 3, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

I hope if you come to Pakistan, despite the non-presence of female sports journos, you will still feel and receive the warmth and respect a lady should get as per our tradition in line with our religion.. and you may feel comfortable as well Insha ALLAH...

Posted by Matt on (August 1, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

@njr1330 No, she's right, because she's using it as the object and them is the objective tense. Sorry to be technical... :P Good article though, as well.

Posted by njr1330 on (July 31, 2012, 19:20 GMT)

"...them and their pavilion..." surely "they and their pavilion"!

Posted by Pat on (July 31, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

A guy I used to work with organised the Ladies Pavilion at New Road after he retired, never did work out how he managed to fix that! Saw you wondering round at lunch, great day wasn't it, weather and cricket

Posted by Hans G on (July 31, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

South Africa Greatest team in the world i love to watch every time

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