One of the great privileges of being an MP is that it gives you an almost unparalleled opportunity to speak up about the things you care about.
Since I was first returned to represent Solihull I have campaign on numerous issues, often working closely with MPs from across the House of Commons on issues from fraud and pensions to fuel duty and the motor industry.
But one cause which has been close to my heart has been getting better representation and recognition for women’s cricket – and I’m delighted that this month we have made a big step forwards.
Women’s Twenty20 (‘T20’) cricket will be making its Commonwealth Games debut right here in the West Midlands, when Birmingham plays host to the games in 2022. Alongside the addition of beach volleyball and para table tennis, this means that we will see the biggest female sports programme in the history of the games!
I have been campaigning on this issue for some time. Not only have I raised the question on several occasions in the House of Commons, but I also held face-to-face meetings with the Minister for Sport to press the case directly.
Sometimes issues like this can get overshadowed, especially when we have really dramatic events unfolding in national politics. But it matters.
Giving a proper platform for sportswomen from across the world is a chance to put a spotlight on the extraordinary effort it takes to represent your country in the Commonwealth Games.
But it also an opportunity to inspire the next generation of British sporting champions. I remember how, as a young man, I was first inspired to take up cricket by my sporting heroes, and I strongly believe that girls today deserve the same chance to see British sportswomen competing at the very top of the global game.
As the nation that gave cricket to the world, it is only fitting that we are the nation to take this next step towards delivering real equality in the sport. I can’t wait to join people from across the country to cheer on our England T20 team in 2022.
Originally published in the Solihull Mail, 22/09/19.