David Moore, coordinator of women’s and girls’ cricket, shares a remarkable success story

Residents of the Village may have noticed a lot of construction activity over the winter at the historic Griffin ground in the heart of the village. The facilities at the Griffin had been neglected for a number of years, with the cricket pitches being scarcely useable for any form of cricket before the pandemic - but what has been going on?

As Readers may know, cricket is the fastest growing female sport in the country and 2023 represents a milestone year in the development of the Dulwich Women’s & Girls’ cricket teams.

Building on the success of the teams in the last few years, Dulwich has been invited to play in the new Kent Premier League and for the first time will be running three women’s teams in addition to numerous teams for girls of all ages.

Dulwich Sports Club is steeped in history, with the cricket section being formed in at least 1867, but for 137 years, like most clubs, it remained a male preserve, with women’s cricket in London being confined to a handful of teams in the outer suburbs.

In 2004, the first developments came as a local coach and cricketer, Lara, arranged an exhibition session for women at the Burbage Road ground. This is the first recorded mention of female cricketers at the club. However, it was not until 2006 that a women’s cricket section became a reality. The first match was played in June 2007, with the first victory coming in August 2008 at Burbage Road, featuring the first of over 200 wickets (and counting) for long - time captain Lyndsay Morton.

By 2010 the team felt brave enough to enter a league but, often short of players, gave a debut to an 11 - year - old Kira Chathli. Kira thrived on the challenge and responsibility and made her county debut at only 14 years old. Kira has been contracted to Surrey since 2019 and in 2022 was included in the squad for the Oval Invincibles. Also in 2022, she was selected for England A to play two warm - up/trial games against the full England team. She has been an inspiration for the girls at the club and a true role model. In the few hours that remain to her outside her professional playing, Kira coaches the teams at Dulwich and still plays for the club when professional commitments allow.

Back in Dulwich, cricket for girls remained very much a niche activity, with too few girls at the club to play matches. In 2016, an 11 - year - old Eleanor Varnier Moore emerged and played her first games for Dulwich Women. Wanting more, she pulled together some friends and the first girls’ games were played at the club.

In 2017 Eleanor gambled that cricket was for girls and teams were entered into the local leagues. Starting with 16 girls aged 8 to 16, by the end of the season over 30 played, attracted by the new club slogan “More girls, more matches, more cake”. The prospect of home - baked brownies led to an explosion of girls at training, with numbers doubling each season. The girls grew to young women and, in 2022, Eleanor took over the captaincy and led the team to the national cup quarter finals and Surrey cup finals. With now some 200 members and over 100 matches played, Dulwich is one of the largest and most active female clubs in the country.

As the number of women and girls playing grew, by the time of the ‘pandemic summer’ it became obvious that new facilities would be needed, as there were just not enough pitches. Although the new Dulwich Square was a bit of a road, a more sustainable option was needed. Fortunately, the Griffin was looking for new tenants.

Dulwich Women seized the opportunity and, together with partners Lambeth Tigers, took on the responsibility. The Griffin ground sits on the course of the Ambrook river, which rises in Sydenham Hill Woods. It has benefited from substantial investment over the winter, with a new main cricket square being laid and improved drainage. Further works to install nets will take place over the course of the summer. When complete, it will be one of the finest club grounds in the country and one of only a handful worldwide where women and girls have priority.

Any club is the sum of its members and any readers interested in playing or watching women’s and girls’ cricket are welcome to join us.