Try the no smile-no support rule of fandom

Meg Lanning and Australia's women cricketers are quite literally sweeping all before them. Photo: AAP
Meg Lanning and Australia's women cricketers are quite literally sweeping all before them. Photo: AAP

You know you're on a good thing when there's a countdown to your next appearance.

It's that old line: "five sleeps until ..." And, as it turns out, it's not just Santa whose appearance is much anticipated.

But consider the likelihood of this scenario unfolding two years ago.

We all have those friends (or friends of friends) who will talk you through their Saturday sporting encounter — play-by-play, ball by excruciating ball, minute by laborious minute.

It is particularly painful if the narrator is a cricketer or cricket tragic of John Howard-esque proportions. The advent of Twenty20 matches has lightened the load on my ears, but trust me, the two-day grade games of questionable standard are a drain.

The newest narrator in my sports world is a little fella who lives nearby. His weekend wardrobe often consists of cricket clobber — the whole deal: whites, broad-brimmed hat, the wannabe spikes have been replaced by sneakers at his mum's insistence (they played merry hell with the floorboards!) and in his hands he wields one of those tiny souvenir bats with all the passion and precision of a mini Rishabh Pant.

He's small for his age and thanks to the collision of a number of genetic events 10 years ago, is unlikely to ever be in a position to pull on a baggy green. Does that matter to him? Hell no!

He's counting down. To summer in the UK. But here's the rub: for the women's Ashes.

Yes, he's interested in the men's tour, too, but it's the women's game that has him enraptured.

He is but one little boy in a sea of sports fans but he is a little lighthouse but on the bedrock of women's sports.

It's difficult to mine a 10-year-old's psychological motivations too deeply, but like the majority of us, he knows what he likes.

"They look like they really like what they're doing," he told me.

"And it's all about the cricket!"

Reading anything other than the superficial would be a folly, but, wow, what a spectacular rule to live your sports fandom life by: no smile, no support. Simple as that.

That he's even aware of the national women's cricket team is a joy.

That he's chosen to adopt them as "his team" says much for the nation's gradual realisation that women play sport, too. 

Now maybe I just need him to add a sport — football. 

The Matildas' first match of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. It's only 81 sleeps until Australia plays Italy, you know.

Janine Graham is an ACM journalist