Twenty20 World Cup final remains an untouched monument to women’s sport

I have never been the type of person to relive moments from the past. I remember them, for sure – little things about this match being enjoyable or that one not so much – but my modus operandi is generally to recall, rather than reflect and reminisce.

It is why, whenever my parents recorded my matches and suggested we watch them together, I could not conceive anything more unpleasant. It is probably also why I didn’t really, properly think about the 2020 T20 World Cup final until almost one year later, last month, when The Record was released.

The two-part documentary series traced our campaign, the pressures and injuries, the highs and lows and then ultimate high in front of that record crowd of 86,174 at the MCG. To re-experience the rush of emotion I felt on that night was a little overwhelming, like a new knowledge that I was part of a moment in time with people who are basically my second family.

Of course, hindsight can reshape memories or highlight certain shades of the fabric. At the time, Covid-19 was a looming but very new threat. Less than a week later a positive case was confirmed as an MCG spectator, and our team were worried that decider against India could turn into a super-spreading event like those seen in other countries.

It felt eerie to move so suddenly from the best moment of my life to nothingness
The fact that it did not is one of the biggest miracles rarely spoken about. And so those few hours remain a preciously untouched monument to women’s cricket, women’s sport and, to be honest, sport in general. Because that really was the last slice of normality before the sporting landscape shifted irrevocably to accommodate a pandemic.

It felt eerie to move so suddenly from the best moment of my life to nothingness. We got home and bang, we are in isolation, and have not been on tour with each other since. That has been felt throughout the team, and I am concerned about when our postponed tours will be rescheduled given the craziness of the next couple of years.

Yet the forced slow-down has also been a blessing in disguise for me. It has meant more time at home with my wife, and my first state pre-season with South Australia in eight years. As horrible as this past 12 months has been for many people, I have kept my job and continue to be paid. It requires some self-motivation to work out in your front yard but if that is the worst, then I know we have been very lucky.

The other, unexpected by-product of Covid has been my tendency to consider issues with more clarity. Some of this has been around equality in sport, a belated reflection on my childhood, of being the token girl who played sport at my school and the perception that was normal. Or of growing up believing women’s cricket pathways were equal to their men’s counterparts when they quite clearly were not.

There are other things, too. Like the fact that, in the weeks leading up to International Women’s Day, Australia has spent the past fortnight discussing rape allegations out of Canberra. The Me Too movement has sparked reassessment of truths I thought I knew. I never thought about my worries as being women’s worries, not really considered that men do not fear they may be attacked while going for a jog at dusk.

My perceptions and awareness have changed and grown into a desire for conversation and education. The term ‘feminism’ is still so stigmatised, and as a society were are so divided. Issues are black and white, with little room for shades of grey. There is room to move and to evolve your opinions, emotions and beliefs. My answers to some of these questions five or 10 years ago would have been far less informed.

In that sense, a changing world is no bad thing. In a cricket sense, I am a realist. I believe in pushing the envelope on equality, but am also thankful for what we have in the current climate. Women’s sport is a slow burn. Six years ago we were not even fully paid. The men’s and women’s games are two different worlds.

I do feel that, during Covid, the men’s program has been prioritised. However, we still played a full season of WBBL and Women’s National Cricket League, two seasons I thought we would lose. More international games would be preferred, which is why our New Zealand tour – our first since the World Cup – will be so welcome.

I have to say the Kiwis are not looking so great – they are getting flogged by England – and hopefully have upped their game by the time we arrive. Our strong domestic competition has prepared us well. My South Australia side were last month beaten by a Victoria team featuring nine of 11 of players with international experience. Players such as Rachel Haynes and Meg Lanning.

Australia are not unbeatable, but opponents must look at our line-up and think it is relentless, and I bloody love that. People ask me if I get sick of winning, and I absolutely do not. Some facets of this first international tour back feel very different. The logistics will be a headache and quarantine will be tough. On the field, though, some things never change.