“A real light at the end of the tunnel” after lockdown.
Birmingham cricket star Amy Jones says that competing for gold for Team England at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be “a real light at the end of the tunnel” after a period of lockdown which has seen the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup postponed.
Jones grew up in Sutton Coldfield and has more than 90 international caps for England as well as playing county cricket for Warwickshire. She is one of the stars of Birmingham 2022’s latest campaign, celebrating elite athletes with a link to the West Midlands. She will appear on billboards across the region from this week as the build up to the Commonwealth Games continues.
Women’s T20 cricket is part of the Commonwealth Games programme for the first time in Birmingham, and Jones says it’s a dream come true to be able to compete in her home city:
“With how things are at the moment, I think it will just be a real light at the end of the tunnel and something for everyone to look forward to. I think it’s a brilliant opportunity for the city, all eyes will be on Birmingham for that period of time. I’m proud to be from Birmingham, and having such a global event coming to the city will just be brilliant.”
Birmingham 2022 will be the first time Jones and her England teammates will have competed as part of a multi-sport team, something she says will add to the occasion:
“It’s something that will be extremely special. We’ve never really been part of a bigger team, and being around that whole Team England squad of athletes is something that we’re really looking forward to.”
Amy Jones says the Commonwealth Games will be a chance raise the profile of women’s sport in general and women’s cricket in particular, and she welcomes the decision to award more medals to women than men at Birmingham 2022:
“I think it’s the first global event to do that which is a really special occasion and just shows how far women’s sport has come. It’s really nice to see women’s sport being rewarded with more medals, and hopefully we just broaden the reach and attract more and more young girls to take up sport in general.
“Every athlete wants to inspire, and the more people that can see us and see what we do and see how much fun we have when we’re out there, if that comes across to young girls maybe watching cricket for the first time, I think that is hugely important.
“As a team we always try and engage with people that come and watch us and really just make it an experience that makes them want to come back and watch again. Hopefully that will be the case in 2022.”
The current world’s top eight women’s T20 cricket nations are all eligible to compete at the Commonwealth Games (Australia, England, New Zealand, India, South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), promising an extremely high quality tournament. England qualify automatically as hosts, with the top six highest ranked sides as of 1st April 2021 also qualifying directly. The eighth spot will go to the winner of a qualifying tournament.
The Birmingham 2022 cricket competition will be held at the iconic Edgbaston cricket ground, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. And Amy, who plays for Warwickshire, says that will make the competition even more special: “I first started playing for Warwickshire at under 13 level so it was really where I learned how to play cricket; it’s definitely a special place for me personally. I’ve only been able to play out on the main pitch a handful of times, so just to be able to play out there is one thing, but to represent England out there will be unbelievable, and I’m sure the support we’ll get there will be great as well.”
She features in Birmingham 2022’s latest campaign, featuring elite athletes who have an association with the West Midlands. She says it’s an honour to be part of the campaign:
“It’s incredible, I don’t think it will have sunk in until I’ve seen a billboard or my family walk past and see it. It’s definitely a bit crazy to be honest but it’s something I’m hugely proud of and I feel very lucky to be one of the athletes that’s up there. It’s definitely something that I’ll not forget.”