England cricket star Amy Jones says bringing the Commonwealth Games to her home city in 2022 will give everyone something to look forward to after lockdown.
Amy Jones knows all too well how special Edgbaston is. A cauldron of cricket, the site of countless iconic sporting moments over the years, and the home ground of her county, Warwickshire. “It’s definitely a special place for me personally”, she says.
In 2022, Edgbaston will host the T20 women’s cricket competition at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. And, as a local girl from Sutton Coldfield, Amy says she can’t wait to inspire a generation of young girls to love cricket as much as she does:
“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.”
Amy grew up in Sutton Coldfield with obvious sporting talent; she played football for Aston Villa before joining Walmley Cricket Club, where her skills with a bat and ball saw her rise quickly through the junior ranks. As a wicket keeper, though, Amy found herself vying for international contention against Sarah Taylor, one of the best keepers the game has ever seen.
Amy admits it was a “tricky start” to her career but, following Taylor’s retirement, she has gone from strength to strength, with more than 90 international caps to her name:
“The T20 World Cup in the West Indies [in 2018] was the start of me becoming a more regular player. We lost the final [to Australia] but for me personally to step up and take a bigger role, that was definitely a breakthrough tournament.”
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. Team 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.
With the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand postponed until the following year due to COVID-19, the prospect of going for gold at a home Commonwealth Games in 2022, at her home ground of Edgbaston, brings added significance for Jones:
“It’s something that would be extremely special, for a number of reasons. Having such a global event coming to Birmingham will just be brilliant, and 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. It’s going to be great for the city and I think the support we’ll get will be brilliant.
“We’ve never really been part of a bigger team, being around that whole squad of athletes is something that we’re really looking forward to. The top cricket playing countries are all in it, so winning gold would definitely rank very highly for us.”
And how does Amy feel about being a poster girl for Birmingham 2022, starring on billboards right across the city as the countdown to the Commonwealth Games intensifies?
“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.”