It’s close to one year since the Australian Women’s Cricket team played in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground in the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup final against India.
It was an historic moment for sport in Australia, and all over the world, as 86, 174 people watched from the stands as the best female cricket players gave it their all.
The Record is a new documentary from production company Her Films, that follows the national team’s campaign to the World Cup final, and the many unexpected twists, that made it feel like perhaps the team wouldn’t get there.
It’s clear from the outset of the documentary that most of the Australian players didn’t believe a record for attendance at a women’s sporting event would happen. It was a campaign years in the making, but for some, it was all just a little too dubious.
“There are a lot of sceptics in our group, especially when we hear things that don’t seem to be that accurate,” Australian batter Beth Mooney, told Women’s Agenda, ahead of the documentary’s release.
“At that point in time, and even up until 18 months ago, it just seemed so farfetched and out of this world that so many people would come and watch a women’s cricket game – whether the Australian team were there or not.”
After Australia lost the opening match of the tournament to India, the reality that perhaps the team might not even make the World Cup final began to sink in. Australia was in a tough pool, alongside New Zealand and India, which meant they couldn’t afford to lose another.
“Everyone was talking about the World Cup final, but we were thinking, hang on a second, we’ve got four or five games before that day and a lot of things need to go right for that to happen,” Mooney said.
“It just felt like everything was coming undone and going against us a little bit.”
The documentary follows the personal stories of the players, and we hear them as they recall the frustration, pressure, immense relief, and ultimate joy they felt at different points.
It portrays Mooney, one of Australia’s opening batters, as the quiet achiever of the side. It’s a perception that Mooney relishes, but she’s also aware that it might be starting to change – especially after being named player of the tournament and then receiving the Belinda Clark medal, an honour given to the best Australian player of the past year.
“After winning the Belinda Clark medal, there’s an element of you not being an underdog anymore. And that’s a bit disappointing to me, but it’s probably a reflection of how far the game’s come. People know exactly what those awards are, and how hard they are to win,” she says.
“In my eyes, I’ll always be just an average player, who works extremely hard and is a little bit gritty. I manage to find a way to score runs and contribute, but maybe that’s not the perception of everyone else now.”
The Record makes you feel like you are watching the tournament in real time, and the pressure the players felt to make the final, is palpable. Captain Meg Lanning’s leadership shines through, it’s clear her composure was a guiding force as the team dealt with unexpected injuries, wild weather, and mounting expectations.
“You can tell in the documentary that during it, she was carrying a lot of extra weight on her shoulders,” Mooney said about Lanning.
“She’s the one that’s going to have to answer questions if it all goes wrong, because she’s the one that will sit in front of the media and has to justify why we win or lose.
“I think it’s easy when you’re in the team and playing, to be worried about yourself, but you don’t often realise the pressure and the magnitude of having to lead a team like ours, especially in the context of a World Cup final on home soil.
And as Rachael Haynes said in The Record, when Lanning has “that steely look in her eyes”, you know you’re glad to be on her team. Mooney agrees.
“With Meg, she’s so composed and so calm under pressure, so you know that if she’s out in the middle with the bat in her hand, she’s always going to grit her teeth and get the job done, no matter how far away winning seems.
“She’s a once in a generation player.”
The documentary serves as a reminder of just what can happen when real investment is made into women’s sport, but it also endeavours to highlight the realities of Australia’s best female athletes. We see the hard work, the anxiety, the good times and the bad. It makes the team’s ultimate victory at the final so much more meaningful and human.
Chatting to Mooney, she recalls one of her favourite memories. She was on the field, and teammate Molly Strano ran a drink out to her in the middle. At this point, the team was confident they had nearly won the final.
“I just remember turning to her, and saying, ‘Strano, what the hell are we doing out here? We’re two girls from the country, we’ve grown up playing cricket together, we’re nobodies.
“And now, we’re in the middle of the MCG and this many people are watching us play cricket. Like, what on earth has happened to our lives?”
The Record is available on Amazon Prime.
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