It’s shameful a country that worships sport treats women who love cricket so shabbily.
Are you seriously telling me there isn’t one woman in this country capable of occupying a spot on the Channel Nine commentary team? One woman with the knowledge, silky smooth voice and wit to match Tubby, Heales, Slats and Warnie?
Flick over to Channel Nine and you’d be forgiven for thinking women don’t give a flying full toss about cricket. The picture presented is one of rotating masculinity – 14 men in a game of musical chairs, all dressed by the same tailor. All wearing the same comfortable grin. If nothing else, it’s visually dull in the same way a commentary box made up exclusively of women would be. Mythical, I know, but you get my point.
Honestly I’d be less surprised if Don Bradman popped up in a blazer and tie next to Ian Chappell than a woman.
Venture outside this blokey world and the picture is vastly different. Women live and breathe cricket too. In parks, backyards, schools, living rooms and social media. Some even play it competitively. And some play it so well they’re the reigning World Cup champions.
So what would a woman bring to the commentary team? Exactly what Donna Symmonds, Anjum Chopra and Natalie Germanos have offered other cricket-loving countries – a breath of fresh air, a different perspective on all areas of the game. A different sensibility. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what a woman has to say about the “art” of sledging or the more serious issue of depression? Who knows she may even spark some interesting conversation or engender intelligent debate? Not to mention circumvent some of the old boy’s club jabbering. Poor old Dave Warner’s had a tough year.
Nine’s head of cricket, Brad McNamara, says ‘‘It’s a hard one. You don’t want a token woman just for the sake of it. It needs to be someone that stands up on their own two feet and earns their place. I think people see through that straightaway, if someone is just there for the sake of it. Cricket is one of those sports where people soon work out if you know what you are talking about or not.”
Couldn’t agree more Brad. They tried the token approach thirty years ago with actress Kate Fitzpatrick in the commentary box for the 1983-84 Test series. The experiment failed spectacularly. Just as it would if I was given the starring role in the next George Clooney movie.
23 years later they tried sports presenter Stephanie Brantz on the boundary interviewing players during the 2006-07 Ashes series. That failed because the Australian players flatly refused to be interviewed by a woman. The boys club is a powerful beast on and off the field.
This marginalisation of women is not in keeping with Cricket Australia’s “strategic imperative” of attracting more women and girls to the game over the next four years.
It would help if they could see a reflection of themselves.