I’m not going to be on the ground covering the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 in New Zealand.

Loads of people aren’t going to be at the World Cup, so boo effin hoo, you may think. And you’re right. Your eye roll is justified. But this is the first women’s world cup after 2016 that I haven’t been at, so allow me a moment of self-pity as I nurse my FOMO.

Tragedy is romanticised in a foreign language, so I’m embracing a word in Welsh: Hiraeth.

Hiraeth, I understand, is a deep yearning for something you can’t have. A longing for a place you can’t be, a place that feels like home.

It’s the crack of the bat I won’t hear, the roar of a crowd I will see but on TV, the echoes of victory bouncing off an emptying outfield and the calm of a sprinkler on the green I won’t feel.

There’s something calming when the sprinklers come onto an emptying ground.

When I’m not at my pity party, I think also of all the players that won’t be at this World Cup too. The amazing Dane van Niekerk, who broke her foot while mopping the floor. Shikha Pandey, whose in-swingers are made for these tracks, who’s been treated so unkindly by India’s selectors and management. Jemimah Rodrigues, Leigh Kasperek and, a personal hero, Kate Ebrahim, who lost out to competition to be in the 15. The powerful Chamari Athapaththu, who was hard done by the apathy of the Sri Lankan cricket administration. Of the whole delightful Thailand team who were so cruelly denied a place at the World Cup when the qualifying tournament was called off because of COVID and they found themselves in a Catch 22 situation: Only the top eight ODI teams would qualify, but Thailand isn’t considered an ODI team, so their wins didn’t matter.

I can’t even imagine the depths of their hiraeth.

Gymnast Mary Lou Retton is credited with this quote: “A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.” It’s a comforting thought, even though it sounds suspiciously like telling a poor person that money can’t buy happiness. I think it’s the memories I will miss most.

When I close my eyes and think about the 2017 World Cup, I see Harmanpreet Kaur at Derby, on the way to her 171*. I hear the cheer when her slogged six went into the midwicket stands. And I see my friend Sid going “wow”.

I miss Sid.

I suppose 2022 is about making new memories. Rediscovering a different kind of love for cricket, as a spectator, fan, journalist. I’m going to try to blog more during the World Cup. But this will be the last self-indulgent piece, promise.

Let the games begin.


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