Whilst the IPL and other International cricket series take place around the world, the majority of the female elite cricketers are taking a well-earned break and enjoying some much needed R & R. The last 6 months of the women’s international calendar has seen two World Cups and a number of bi-lateral series played.
Since the broadcast of the World Cup in India only 2 months ago, I have noticed a significant increase in the media exposure and public interest in the women’s game. More importantly to the players, high-profile past male cricketers are publicly supporting our game and speaking favourably about the standard at which we play the game.
As the final award at Cricket NSW’s Steve Waugh Medal night was about to be presented, Steve Waugh himself took the time to congratulate the CNSW Breakers team on a wonderful season and made the bold statement that there should be one female contracted to each of the BBL teams for this coming summer. He felt that the standard and skill that he has seen on show means some female players are good enough to compete at that level.
That certainly sparked some discussions later on in the evening.
Of course it is not uncommon, girls mixing it with the boys, as most of the current Southern Stars players grew up playing against the boys. Both Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy shook the foundations of their schools when they created history by being selected in each of their respective schools’ First XI team solely on merit.
Ellyse Perry also caught the attention of the media when she represented Sydney Cricket Club in the Under 21 competition Twenty/20 fixture. Opening the bowling, she picked up 2/14 off her 4 overs, not bad for girl! These are just some examples, with the majority of past female players especially in the country, playing Men’s Grade cricket and Shires/Parks cricket.
I concede that all of these examples are of girls playing youth cricket or at local club level. So, how would we fair amongst the “Men of the game,” at a State/International level? Recently on the Google Plus show “The Cricket Club”, Stuart MacGill asked me my thoughts in the matter.
I certainly believe that women can participate at that level, especially from a fielding and bowling perspective. In regards to batting it would take some time to adjust to the steeper bounce and pace at which the ball is delivered, particularly as the ball is travelling in excess of 140km at times. I wouldn’t say that it can’t be done, but I am saying it would be harder to face and for me personally, something that I wouldn’t really want to do from a safety point of view.
MacGill went on to say that be believed no matter what gender you are, the BBL teams should pick the best 11-15 players and if that means 3-4 females then so be it. It is great to hear a successful past player backing us and our talent; with him even saying that the international female players bat a hell of a lot better than him.
To add a little more fuel to the debate, it has been well documented that Sarah Taylor, England’s wicket-keeper and No. 3 bat, has held talks with Sussex about playing in their 2nd XI team this summer.
As to be expected, this sparked comment from Charlotte Edwards, England’s captain and currently the most capped player in the women’s game. In a recent article which appeared on www.skynews.com.au Edwards didn’t query Taylor’s ability to play in a men’s county team, but rather spoke about the impact that playing in the county competition would have on Taylor’s game when she returned to playing in the women’s competitions. Edwards made the salient point that the men’s game is played a lot on the back foot whereas the women’s game is played predominately on the front foot. In the article, Edwards comments as follows,
“ I am not ruling it out.”
“ Sarah is a wonderful player and I am sure that she can adapt.”
“ From a captain and England perspective we want them training for women’s cricket. They are slightly different games.”
I am sure there is a bit of short-term preparation focus embedded in these comments from Charlotte. Specifically, with England failing to make the World Cup final and the Southern Stars currently ranked No. 1 in all formats. I am sure that Charlotte wants her players to be ready for the Ashes battle this coming July / August as Australia and England compete in 1 Test, 3 One-Day Internationals and 3 Twenty/20.
So, will it happen?
I am sure that at some stage it might happen, in addition to it occurring on an ad hoc basis in the odd charity match and/or training, but I hope that the Women’s game is able to find its own meaningful place in the world of sport without relying on us being compared favourably to men or having to prove our skill level against them for our skill level to be truly acknowledged.
What I do know is long gone are the days people can call out “you throw like a girl!” as a sledge.
NOTE: I write a weekly article for The Roar sports website. This article also appears on The Roar website at www.roar.com.au