A New Me, A New Blog

Over the past few years, I have committed a cardinal sin in blogging. I have simply not blogged enough. I might as well have just TWEETED my thoughts. It’s taken me until now to realise that this blog is a tool that should be treated more valuably and with more respect. I LOVE talking to the world and although some of my close friends might disagree, I don’t do it enough! Why do we settle with just talking to the people around us – the ones in our lives? Just imagine how quickly we’d advance as a planet with all seven billion people talking to each other! OK, extreme I know, but I’m a dreamer and I like to dream BIG.

This blog so far has concentrated on all things CRICKET but with cricket season here in the UK coming to a close, my attention is turning back fully to the other things that interest me including music, films, celebs, current affairs, food, make up, hair products and styles, nail art and varnish, fashion and matters close to my heart.

Us women are very curious creatures. We love to know about what’s new and popular. We love to read about tried and tested products and scrawl the internet for ideas of how to mix up our styles, ready to impress our partners/co-workers or even just to test and stretch our creativity. Anyone who knows me or follows my @LilMissAshes persona on Twitter knows that I am a woman of many words. I have my opinions and often think I know what’s best. I will therefore be metaphorically throwing this blog into a blender to see what comes out.

Stand by for a new me…

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Shw Mae Amigos: When Merthyr Meets La Manga…

I was thrilled to read about Penydarren Country XI Cricket Club recently – Merthyr Tydfil’s oldest cricket club – heading out to La Manga, Spain for a five-day T20 competition to compete in the Tom Maynard Trust T20 Tournament from 1-5 October, 2015.

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The club are huge Glamorgan CCC fans, much like myself, and to quote their Just Giving page, “knew Tom’s skill was something special and a joy to watch. We appreciate what The Tom Maynard Trust have to offer and would like to add funds to help them in the future.” Learning about what Tom meant to them and their love of the sport makes the competition even more special.

I work for youth charity The Prince’s Trust so youth development is something that’s extremely close to my heart. This is just one of the reasons why the Tom Maynard Trust means a lot to me personally. Young people need a chance to succeed and I feel we have a responsibility to help in any way we can.

The Tom Maynard Trust was set up initially to help the development of aspiring disadvantaged cricketers and other sportspeople who require support with different aspects of their career development, including bursaries, help with training and education, financial support for overseas placements and assistance with kit and equipment. Its work now includes support for education and development programmes across a number of professional sports and the running of an annual Tom Maynard Academy in Spain.”

Following the draw, the Country XI are listed in Group B and will be playing against the likes of Westcroft CC, United CC, and even an all-Welsh affair with Menai Bridge CC.

The guys will be joined on the trip by ex-Glamorgan and Kent blonde but destructive bombshell, Mike Powell and long-time Glamorgan spinner and possible future Strictly Come Dancing Candidate, Dean Cosker, although their position on the team is not guaranteed as competition is high – Love it!

I just want to take this opportunity to wish them a huge good luck for the tournament – it would be great to see you come home with the trophy lads! Just wish you could pack me in your suitcase!

Follow them on Twitter @CountryEleven for tournament updates. I will be.

¿Como es que?

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Fan the Flames

Well a big hello again from the crazy, Welsh, cricket-loving chick who likes to parade round cricket grounds, wine glass in hand and chatting to cricketers on the boundary and randoms in the crowd. It has been a WHILE!

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Wednesday, 8th July was a great day. It was it Day 1 of the 2015 Ashes – a cricket competition I fell in love with 10 years ago, almost to the Test. Not only was I lucky enough to have a ticket, but I was asked to speak on Jason Mohammad’s BBC Radio Wales Ashes Show, talking about what the Ashes coming to Cardiff means for us here in Wales. As a huge Glamorgan Cricket fan, naturally I had plenty to say! The debate went well, the host was happy, not to mention my Nan, listening back home in Neath.

What has sparked this particular blog however came very swiftly after the radio interview had finished. A 40-something England fan who was sitting in the pub we were broadcasting from, had obviously been listening in as he strode up to where I was packing up my things and rather angrily asked me to reiterate my statement of when my interest in cricket began.

“2005.” I answered. “After we regained The Ashes.” I answered simply to what I KNEW was a loaded question. My suspicions were confirmed when he exploded into a tirade of abuse.

“How many Test matches have you been to see?” He asked me.

“Four, I think.” I replied, rather proudly. In the next few minutes, this man, single handedly, portrayed everything wrong with people’s attitudes towards the sport I love so much – I just WISH it had been caught on camera.

According to him, 4 Test matches seen ‘in the flesh’ does not qualify me to have a view on cricket or talk about it in public, regardless of the many Test Match DVDs I own and many hundreds of Tests I have watched on the TV or listened to on the radio, regardless of the hundreds of county cricket matches I have watched, not to mention local teams, regardless of the CRICKET BOOK I have written and had published four years ago, regardless of the hours of cricket chats I have had with my fantastic cricket-loving Twitter followers, regardless of the times I’ve spent in the commentary box with BBC Wales, BBC Essex and BBC London, regardless of all the time I give to publicising the sport that always comes second to football!

Even after all this, because I haven’t followed England to every Test match, he believes me to be a fraud. If time and money were no object, then I would happily follow England round the Globe, but I am happy the way I do things. I have a life, a job I love and I’m saving for a house. I simply cannot afford it! And neither can most! Does that make us any less of a cricket fan than this guy?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

People were listening in on this conversation and if they weren’t cricket fans before, they’re certainly not going to become one now! It’s a FACT we need to start filling cricket grounds, and it’s this unwelcoming attitude that puts people off. I call them ‘The Crazies.’ The Crazies claim to know everything about cricket and look down on anyone who hasn’t watched it as much as them or for as long. I class myself as the total opposite. I love chatting to people with a ‘mild’ interest. They’re still unsure about calling themselves ‘cricket fans’ but they’re open-minded enough to give it a go, even if you can watch it for 5 days and still not get a result. We should be encouraging people, not scaring them off, making them feel inadequate and not ‘qualified’ to be a fan. In a word, I was disgusted.

What makes the situation even worse is that I know for a fact that he saw me as young(ish) girl, on her own, and therefore an easy target. I would bet my Ashes tickets that he would not have said anything to me if I was a man. As a writer of a cricket book aimed at getting women into cricket, I saw red at this point and called him out on it. He quickly walked back to his table. His poor wife apologised to me but all I wanted to do was apologise to her. At the end of day I wasn’t the one who had to live with an elitist arsehole.

The irony however, was that for all his bragging about all the England Tests he had been to, he was sitting in the pub next to the stadium, watching the Test match on the TV, two tickets short. I however, having just completed my radio interview, was standing there with three Ashes tickets in hand, when I only needed one.

No prizes for guessing what I did next…

That’s right, walked straight out the door and didn’t look back!

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I’m going to finish this blog on a positive and tell you a true story. A story which I want this idiot from the pub to read. It’s about a cricket fan helping a cricket fan, and is a great reminder to all that cricket should be for everybody.

There is a gentleman who lives in Cardiff who can’t afford to go and watch Glamorgan play. He can often be found on the path by the River Taff that runs alongside the stadium. He can just about see the scoreboard and hear the faint sound of leather on willow. Cricket makes him happy and he would give anything to go in and watch a match, but he just can’t afford it. The mother of a good friend of mine, another big cricket fan, took the time to speak to him one day about what he was doing. She learned how much he loved the sport so she took his contact details and is going to provide him with tickets and take him into the ground this summer to watch Glamorgan play.

The fact that he is not a Glamorgan member like me does not make him any less of a cricket fan than I am. For all I know he could love the sport more I do – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the patience to stand outside a cricket ground for hours listening and not watching!

I just hope that people reading this blog embrace every type of cricket fan they come into contact with. If their love for the sport is just embers, don’t put it out with angry judgement, help fan the flames until they can burn brightly on their own.

#CricketFamily

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Zombies Stop Play Pt 8

Friday, 13th June 2014


19:30, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

“Mate, what the hell is that?!” Asked Sammy, looking rather unnerved.

“I’m really am sorry mate, you’re gonna turn. You’re gonna become… one of them!” Answered Jackson, already filled with regret from what he was doing. Beads of sweat started to pour down Sammy’s head as he faced the person that was ready to end his life with a flick of a finger.

“I don’t understand, how can you even know that? I feel fine!”

“He was in the toilet when you told everyone about the blue-eye rule, Jackson. He doesn’t know. Maybe you were wrong?” Suggested Mossy, putting his hand on the gun barrel and attempting to lower it. Jackson was too strong for Mossy, and the gun didn’t budge. It was still aimed directly between the Aussie’s bright blue eyes. The rest of the team didn’t quite know what to say or what to do. They trusted Jackson, with their lives, and weren’t about to argue with him over something he seemed to know more about than they did.

“Sammy, close your eyes.” Said Jackson quietly. Sammy quickly reached for his bat and picked it up. He looked ready to attack Jackson.

“I’m not gonna let you do this!” Shouted Mossy next to him. “If he turns, then fine, paint the walls with his baggy green brains but until then, I can’t let you pull that trigger!”

“Don’t you see?” Shouted Jackson back at his best friend, turning his head to look at him. “I’m doing this for us. If he turns, he’ll kill us. I shoot him now and we have a chance!” In that moment, Sammy swung his bat hard at the gun. The shock made Jackson pull the trigger, and the bullet flew straight through Mossy’s shoulder. Jackson dropped the gun as Mossy fell to the floor, pushing down on the wound tightly with his hand.

“Shit Moss I’m so sorry!” Jackson pulled his T-shirt off and wrapped it round the wound, tying it hard to control the bleeding. The wound was deep but thankfully not fatal. Bridgey picked up the gun in anger.

“From now on, I’m the only one who uses this gun!” Jackson felt awful. Considering the current, apparent apocalypse and the fact that his best friend had just shot him in his batting shoulder, Mossy was in reasonably good spirits.

“I guess I really am like Inspector Riggs in Lethal Weapon now, eh Jacks?” Jackson smiled. Before he could respond however, Sammy’s ‘change’ had already begun. He doubled over in searing pain with one hand holding him up and the other hand tightly gripping his hair.

“Jacks, I think we’ve got a problem, boi!” Shouted Obvious-Lee, pointing at Sammy who was now kneeling silently, staring at the floor.

“Has he changed?” Asked Milo. Picking up a cricket ball from the bench behind him. Sammy slowly lifted his head, with glowing red eyes staring straight at Jackson.

“Nevermind!” Screamed Milo, launching the ball at Sammy’s head. Unfortunately, the ball flew straight past him into the wall behind.

“You never could hit the stumps!” Shouted an injured Mossy from the floor. Sammy leapt up from the floor, and pounced at Jackson. Jackson gripped his neck as tightly as he could so he wouldn’t be able to bite. Sammy was strong however, in his new, undead form and his head got closer and closer to Jackson’s neck. Milo realised that he now needed to step up for his brother. He picked up his bat and took the biggest swing at Sammy’s shoulders, sending him flying out of Jackson’s grip and into the changing room door.

“Shoot hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!” Yelled Jackson, backing away on all fours.” In that moment, Bridgey lifted his gun and shot a bullet straight between Sammy’s eyes, killing whatever he had become.

The group sat silently, staring at their former team mate. The scene flashing through their minds as if they were watching a replay. Jackson decided that the silence needed to be broken.

“That’s it, I’m getting out of here!”

Move Over Y Chromosome!

Me at the cricket 3 years ago, ON MY OWN!

Me at the cricket 3 years ago, ON MY OWN!

Three years ago I wrote a book – a book that was aimed at women, introducing them to cricket. My motivation? To get more girls into the sport. Not necessarily playing it, but watching, enjoying and actually understanding it.

Last night I attended the Glamorgan v Surrey T20 match at the Swalec Stadium, Cardiff. For the first time, in the nine years I have been a cricket fan, my cricket buddy Abby and I were not alone. At one point I actually had to queue for the ladies, in a place that is unique in the fact that the women’s toilets are historically more underused than the men’s. It was a great feeling seeing so many women my age watching cricket.

I remember when it was often just Abby and I sitting in the ground under the age of 50, CWAGS (crickets WAGS) aside, chatting to the elderly men who took us in as one of their own. It’s can be scary being the minority, especially in an environment such as the cricket, watching a sport that is often said to be extremely male dominated.

Watch the IPL and notice the ground filled with both sexes. In fact some teams are even owned by women in India. I appreciate we’re still so far from that but I definitely saw from last night’s experience that we’re certainly on our way.

I was lucky enough to be a guest on the BBC Radio show ‘Good Evening Wales’ with Gareth Lewis before the match to talk about my cricket eBook, my blog and how we are going to get more women to the cricket. I talked about grounds thinking more about what women enjoy on a night out, such as having themed nights, encouraging them to dress up before going out etc. but the more I think about it, the more I realised I should have mentioned the part that the men have to play. Not the on-field cricketers, but the boyfriends, the husbands, the fathers and the brothers. I didn’t start watching cricket because I woke up one day and decided I wanted to learn about the world’s most intricate sport. It was my father, calling me into his conservatory to watch the end of the 2005 Ashes Edgbaston test. From then on I was hooked. All it takes is one game and a bit of understanding, and that’s what motivated me to do for other girls of my generation what my father did for me.

Men – you have to step up. If you want your lady to appreciate the fact that you like to stand around in a field for hours on end on a Saturday afternoon whilst a red leather ball comes flying at your face every now and again, make some effort. Teach her a different rule every week, ease her in by taking her to a T20 once in a while, or encourage her to start her Friday night out with the girls at a short but exciting cricket match drinking Pimms. I had my cricket epiphany (crickiphany), so can she!

County Cricket Grounds – Be a little flexible with your prices now and again. Unless you’re a member, cricket tickets can be expensive and extremely off-putting for those on the fence about the game. I’m not saying women’s tickets should be cheaper, that’s sexist. I’m merely suggesting you give some free tickets to your members to share out with their friends – a ‘try before you buy’ approach. I know this has been done by grounds in the past but I don’t see it enough. A great example of clever marketing would be what Glamorgan CCC have done this year – a £50 one-off payment to attend all of the home T20 matches. The short form of the game is a great place for new fans to begin. It’s only 3 hours long, fast-paced, full of atmosphere and 99.9% of the time there is a result.

Eventually, you won’t need gimmicks to attend. The cricket itself will stand alone and attract both genders equally, I really believe it will happen some day. Compared to 3 years ago, I am seeing more and more women at the cricket and it’s so refreshing. I’m not sure whether it’s the weather, the current good form of my team or the lure that some of the more handsome cricketers have over the young girls but it’s great to see women breaking into a male-dominated sport.

I haven’t given up on my dream of working in the sport media world. I believe my subject knowledge and often crazy, girly view on cricket would make for a fascinating radio show. I have done some cricket commentary before on various radio and internet stations – it’s usually quite funny listening to me attempting to soften my Swansea accent so people can understand me – and I have absolutely loved it. Male commentators aren’t always easy-listening for women who are trying to learn the sport – I’ve been told this by many a woman. I honestly believe I’d be able to fix that problem and will work hard to be given that chance. Us women are complex characters but once you understand what makes us tick, we’re not that hard to please. When I think about my favourite TV shows or movies, it’s not necessarily the story that attracts me, it’s the characters and it’s the same with sport. Once you know the personality of the cricketer, you can’t help rooting for them. I’d love to see them doing more personal interviews. I’m not talking explicit love-life details, just what makes them tick. It makes them more human and relatable. I, like many women, am pretty nosy. There’s a reason there are so many gossip magazines out there – we like to know everybody’s business!

Cricketers – you need to be in the limelight more. You’d become more of an interest so people are not just supporting the sport, they’re supporting the player. Yes, it’s putting yourself out there a little bit more, but think of it as your contribution to marketing a brilliant game. Your fans would appreciate it and you never know, you may just find your ground a little fuller next year. (See Freddie Flintoff).

I might be a bit of a ‘cricket geek’ but in my mind I’m the best of both worlds. I also love shopping, doing my nails and going for cocktails with the girls. My aim is to show other girls like me how fun getting into cricket can actually be, and I won’t stop until every country appreciates it like the sub-continent. They get it right, but so can we.

I’ll get there one day.

Zombies Stop Play Pt 5

Friday, 13th June 2014

18:00,Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

Jackson jumped back into Mossy who was creeping close behind him.
“Easy!” Whispered Mossy to a clearly disturbed Jackson.
“Did you hear that? There’s something out there? I think it just, threw something…” Jackson was shaking. As big and brave as he was, and tried to be for his team, nerves were starting to get the better of him.
“Relax man!” Said Mossy, looking into Jackson’s eyes. “I’ve seen you swing a cricket bat, you swing it pretty damn hard!” Jackson smiled. The more he listened to Mossy’s strong South African accent, the more he was able to pretend that he was in a Lethal Weapon film. “Remember, if it growls, has red eyes and looks like it’s been microwaved then swat that zombie piece of s**t for six. Got it?” Mossy’s prep talk was just what Jackson needed. He gripped his bat even tighter and charged out onto the balcony. As he initially suspected, there was indeed an ‘infected’ player standing over a corpse. Essex’s tall, lanky twelfth man Toby Carver. Carver’s mouth was dripping with blood and he had what looked like a head in his left hand. He tilted his head to the side slowly and stared straight at Jackson.
“How many are there Jacks?” Shouted Mossy from behind the doorframe.
“Two.” Spoke Jackson in a quiet voice. “One walking dead, one dead dead.”
“Is the dead dead one going to come back to life like the others?”
“I very much doubt it. I think it’s the Essex physio. Although it’s hard to tell without his head actually attached to his body.” Throughout his entire scene description to Mossy, Jackson did not move his eyes from the two dark red spheres of the twelfth man. “I’m gonna have to kill Carver now. In that second, Carver dropped the half-eaten head of the Essex physio and leapt towards Jackson. He was about to swing his bat at Carver’s head when he heard a deafening bang in his ear. Bridgey was standing just behind him with a smoking shotgun aimed at the enemy.
Carver’s head lay in bits, scattered over the balcony. All three men turned to Bridgey who slowly lowered his gun.
“Look who decided to come to the party!” Said Jackson, fist-bumping his quiet but new-found action hero team mate.
“I’ve got your back boys. Now let’s get over there and check their room. I think their door is open…”

Bridgey’s shot had shattered the fence separating the balconies so the boys were able to creep quietly over to the Essex changing room. Jackson peered round the door to see 2 of the Essex players, shaking in the corner of the room, one gripping his cricket bat and the other holding his crutches, ready to attack the next thing to come through the door. There were three or four bodies scattered around the room, all with flattened heads. Jackson needed to get their attention but shouting wasn’t an option. Their changing room door which lead deeper into the pavilion was blood-spattered and ajar. Jackson took a step into the changing room and quickly put his finger to his lip, hoping they would realise he wasn’t one of them. Robin Van der Westhuizen, or Westie to his team mates, the injured South African Essex all-rounder threw his crutch at Jackson in panic, not realising he wasn’t there to attack. The crutch hit Jackson in the ribs resulting in an almightily yelp and the 6ft 4 bowler crashing against the wall and to the floor in agony. Mossy, Milo and Bridgey quickly ran in to see to their friend. Westie soon realised his mistake and hopped over to Jackson who was doubled over in pain.

“Sorry mate, I thought you were one of them!” There was no love loss between Westie and Jackson. They had been rivals for years. Bars would empty to see Jackson bowl his 90mph deliveries at Westie – they were very equally matched which made for the perfect rivalry. Of course their differences were not just on the field. There was history between them. They were cricket rivals, love rivals, Twitter rivals and media rivals – frequently slating one another in interviews.
“Come on mate, who are you kidding? You could see I wasn’t a bloody zombie!” Said Jackson, rather angrily.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist!” Replied Westie. “It was an accident!” Bridgey turned to Westie’s team mate O’Toole who was still in the corner, staring out of the changing room door.
“Hey buddy, good to see you made it off the field!”
“Too many energy drinks for him earlier…” Interrupted Westie. “He needed a toilet break as soon as they started playing!” O’Toole continued to ignore Bridgey. His eyes were fixated on something.
“Mate, are you OK?” Asked Mossy.
“Not really…” Answered O’Toole in a quiet, shaky voice. “There’s something looking at me.”

“`SHUT THE DOOR!!!” Yelled Jackson. Mossy sprinted to the door and threw his entire body weight at it, feeling some resistance from the other side as it slammed. Milo and Jackson ran over to help keep it closed but the resistance got stronger. Something wanted IN!

Zombies Stop Play Pt 4

Friday, 13th June 2014


17:30, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

The remaining Glamorgan team were silenced by what they saw. All but Jackson.

“Right, we need to think fast. Are we going to stay in here or are we going to try and get the hell out of this place? Either way we need to decide now.”
About five different answers came at once from his teammates. Jackson struggled to decipher each suggestion. The majority seemed to want to leave to get to their families but Mossy had other ideas.
“Are you boys crazy?” Yelled Mossy. “You all saw what one bite from the things can do! If we leave this room now, we won’t last five minutes!” Obvious-Lee picked up his shiny new Woodworm bat from the floor and took a few hard swipes at the air.
“You clearly haven’t seen me in the nets lately, bud! If these are zombies, I’ll take three heads off with one swing!” Jackson admired Lee’s spirit, but his confidence was severely misplaced.
“Come on boys, let’s be a little bit realistic shall we? You all saw how many strong men Tyrone Carter took out at the start. I know he’s a big, strong lad anyway but you can see what this disease does to people. They become faster and stronger… and for some weird reason develop a taste for people!” Tyrone couldn’t believe what he was actually saying to his team that he knew it needed to be said.
“I’m with Jackson on this one boys.” Added Mossy, putting a hand on his best friend’s shoulder. “The door to our changing room is pretty thick and we can use our bats as weapons.” Bridgey quietly put his hand up.
“You don’t need to put your hand up mate, this isn’t school!” Laughed Jackson. Bridgey was the number 3 batsman for Glamorgan. He was quiet but brilliant, and a little bit of an academic genius, forever trying to shake off the nickname Ceefax.
“Anyone know if any of the Essex Camp in the changing room right next to ours are OK? I mean, did anybody see them on the balcony?” Jackson looked at Mossy. Bridgey had made an excellent point. They may be safe now, but they shared balconies, with only a small fence to separate them.
“Everybody shut up!” Jackson whispered. “If any of the Essex lot ‘turned’ in there and hear us in here, they could come for us. We need to do some reccy. Mossy, Milo, come with me, and grab a bat.
“You can borrow my Dad’s shotgun if you want?” The whole team glared at Bridgey in disbelief.
“Shotgun! What the hell are you on about Ceefax?” Asked Jackson, walking over to a shifty looking Bridgey.
“It’s my dad’s. We went shooting yesterday up the valley and I put it in my kit bag. I’ve just forgotten to take it out. I’m not a weirdo, honest!” Bridgey pulled the shot gun from out of his bag and went to hand it to Jackson. “Do you know how to use it?”
“I’m from the valleys, of course I do!” Replied Jackson with a smile. “But I’m not gonna be the one using it. You can come with us.” Bridgey’s face dropped. I’m the brains, not the braun! He muttered to himself under his breath as the walked towards the balcony.
“The rest of you stay in here, grab any bats, stumps, anything that you can use as a weapon.” Added Mossy, following Jackson, Milo and Bridgey to the balcony.

Jackson arrived at the balcony door first, which was still open. He was about to cast a glance round the frame when he heard a loud bang on the deck about 5 feet away from him…