‘Let’s push things forward’: Katie Levick

Katie Levick of Yorkshire bowls during the inaugural Kia Super League women's cricket match between Yorkshire Diamonds and Loughborough Lightning at Headingley on July 30, 2016 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)

Katie Levick isn’t one to tread lightly around a subject – particularly when it’s one that others some to be reveling in.

She admits to having been in two minds about sending a tweet that generated a significant amount of coverage earlier this month but now? Well, she’s bloody glad she did.

Posting on Twitter shortly after The Hundred was postponed until 2021, Levick wrote:

“For those celebrating the cancellation of The Hundred this year, you’re essentially celebrating unemployment. It may not be the “traditional” game you claim to love, but it’s the one that was employing so many women that don’t have the opportunity of professionalism otherwise. It’s not £100k for 4 weeks work for us; it’s money to keep a roof over our head, food in our fridge & the dream alive a little longer.”

It was quite some statement and one that anyone involved in the England set-up would have been unable to make. For the leading wicket-taker in the history of the women’s County Championship, though, it was a chance to vent her frustration at a tub-thumping minority who were more intent on bashing the new competition than embracing the potential opportunities it offered to women cricketers across the game.

“I couldn’t help myself,” she tells The CC. “I’ve always been the rogue one who will speak out about stuff in cricket because I’m not involved in the international side of things – I don’t have any greater bodies that I have to listen to.

“It got to me, that did. I just felt I had to make a statement. I was waiting for my boss to text me and say ‘right, what have you done now’. When it got the reaction it did, I just thought, oh wow, I’m actually speaking on behalf of a lot of people here.

There was a really wide range of people who jumped on it.

“Not everyone agreed with me, though.”

“I’ve always been the rogue one who will speak out about stuff in cricket because I’m not involved in the international side of things – I don’t have any greater bodies that I have to listen to.”

It’s very hard to argue with Levick’s viewpoint. The Hundred was, after all, a priceless chance for more English women to earn money from the game, something that would previously have been almost impossible for those outside of the central contracts system.

“People always talk about the difference between the women and the men and the pay disparity,” she says. “But when you look at where it’s come from when I started, you wouldn’t believe where it is now. We’re all talking about how devastated we are that The Hundred is getting cancelled because we’re missing out on money. But if you had told me 10 years ago that we would be getting paid to play cricket, then I would have thought you were insane.

“These might be small steps but they’re all steps that are taking us forward. And that’s still true, even after the cancellation of The Hundred.”

The fear, though, remains that the financial chaos of 2020 and the prospect of a summer without any form of domestic cricket could prove a huge blow for both the men’s and women’s games.

For first class counties, it might mean a reduced playing staff for the foreseeable future. For the women’s domestic game, that impact may be even more stark.

“I can see women drifting out of the game between now and when the tournament is finally played,” says Levick.

“A lot of girls aren’t in the position of not being able to work. And whenever their contracts come in or the next time The Hundred rolls around, if they have careers that don’t allow them to have six weeks off in the summer then who knows?

“It will be interesting to see what the squad lists look like in 2021.”

Katie Levick

Levick will be intent on ensuring that her name is included, despite practice opportunities currently being limited by virtue of her living in a gardenless flat. The loosening of government restrictions, however vague, may soon provide the chance for the leg-spinner to go and find a net to bowl in in the near future.

But either way, it looks unlikely that she’ll be able to add to her record-breaking County Championship tally of 190 wickets – which currently puts her top of the domestic all-time list. In fact, the current hiatus may see her remain there forever more.

“If we didn’t play again, I’ll still be at the top of the list – I’ll keep that!” she laughs.

“When the new regional competition comes in, we’ll be playing under different names so I’m not sure what they will do with any previous records.

“Let’s cancel this season, let’s move on!”

Her tongue is firmly in cheek, with Levick as keen as any player or supporter for the action to get underway before the evenings draw-in and mercury drops. For now, though, she waits. Like the rest of us.