Time to see women’s cricket

10003802_10152320765909313_8920253485663972608_oI had to read the women’s T20 World Cup final last night. That’s right, read.

It’s not the most satisfying way to follow a game. Granted, the Twitter banter between Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan was an entertaining alternative to the live action.

But reading on Twitter that another English wicket has fallen or on the ABC live feed that Aussie captain Meg Lanning has tonked another six does not get you leaping off the couch doing multiple fist pumps. For that you need to be able to see the actual game, especially when it involves Aussies slicing and dicing Poms as our Southern Stars did so meticulously.

I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. All yesterday, whenever Cricket Australia or the Wide World of Sports encouraged their Facebook followers to get behind the Southern Stars, they copped an earful about the game not being televised on free-to-air TV. Particularly when GEM was screening the men’s final and Australia wasn’t even in it.

Their message was clear: We’re on board, why aren’t you?

Cricket Australia’s response was: “ICC (International Cricket Council) owns the rights to the WT20.”

Which is true, of course. But they also sell those rights. And in a media release on 29 August 2012, the Nine Network announced: “Channel Nine will bring free-to-air viewers the action from all the big games in the 2012 and 2014 World T20 tournaments.”

All the big games. Except the ones with women in them.

If Nine’s rights didn’t include the women’s matches, then they bloody well should have. It’s not as if Australia was the dark horse coming into the tournament. We’d already won the last two World Cups. It was a fair bet we’d be there at the end.

As for those who say people don’t want to watch women’s cricket, how do we know if we never get to see it? Who doesn’t front up to watch Aussies beat Poms? At anything? Saddle up a pair of cockroaches representing the two old enemies and you’ll get an audience.

There were moments of this tournament we really should have seen. Like Meg Lanning hitting the highest score in women’s T20 history, 126, in a record-breaking game against Ireland. Australia’s hard-hitting victories against South Africa and Pakistan. And, of course, yesterday’s final in which the Aussie girls completely humbled the opposition. Or so I read.

It’s not like Nine hasn’t broken new ground in this area before. In 1983, it appointed the world’s first female commentator. Admittedly, it was actress Kate Fitzpatrick, whose only connection to cricket was a fling with Imran Khan and whose short-lived stint in the commentary box focused largely on the striking qualities of Qasim Omar’s eyes.

And while Nine hasn’t been game to try again, it recently announced sports presenter Yvonne Sampson would be brought into hosting duties next summer, while promising there would be a woman giving ball-by-ball commentary ‘in due course’.

Come on, guys, it’s been 31 years! Time to dip your toe in the water again. There’d be no shortage of Aussie women players ready and willing to step up with expert commentary.

The heartening thing in all of this is that most of the people voicing their disappointment at not being able to watch yesterday’s final were men. The fact that Gilly and Michael Vaughan were glued to their sets for the whole game is also encouraging.

So the next time the women’s cricket rights are up for grabs, I look forward to some aggressive bidding. And to watching the Southern Stars take their fourth crown. Instead of reading about it.

28 thoughts on “Time to see women’s cricket

  1. I watched that match live on TV . I am neither from Australia nor England even then I was interested to see the final of T20 Women World-cup .These matches should be encouraged and given proper coverage . I can understand your feelings if my country’s team is in final I would not want to miss a single moment of that match too .

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  2. As a cricket lover and having played cricket(badly) I am really excited to see what is one of the great sports being enjoyed worldwide now. Being male it’s pretty natural for a liking of the game but that aside I just think women’s cricket is a real opportunity for sponsors, players and fans alike to get into. It’s a winner for me. Great Fresh Press too!. B

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  3. I have to agree with everything you have said. No woman’s cricket on any tele station anywhere. At least Cricinfo take an interest and I can get some news on the girls. Sad situation really.

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  4. Greetings from India. India is a cricket crazy country and I can’t guarantee you if many Indian readers will read this blog or not or even bother commenting on your good article.

    Lets admit that, ICC generates a lot of revenue through Indian viewers. ICC didn’t bother promoting this event as a lot of Indians do not follow women’s cricket. In India you will find almost each and every school has a cricket team for boys but not for girls. India has a women’s national team but hardly anyone know the name of even a single cricketer. The fact that Indians know that a women’s cricket team exists itself is an achievement.

    One of the best way to make it popular is to get the Indian viewer to watch it. ICC will automatically invest in its promotions. When Sony World held the rights for a couple of world cups, it did try to rope in ‘Mandira Bedi’ as one of the post match commentators. She was more popular for the way she dressed than her cricket knowledge or the lack of it. All she was able to do was to get more females watch men’s cricket than the other way round.

    Have an IPL kind of thing for women’s cricket and that could perhaps be the turning point.

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  5. Hi! Could you please point me to a few resources on the basis of Cricket? I’d like to learn about it, here in Mexico nobody knows a thing and it is already hard enough for me to find hard core baseball fans here. I’ve been through youtube but have found nothing as basic as I need, I mean, toddler level!!

    Thanks!

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    • Hi there. Wow, you’ve set me a tough assignment! Cricket in Australia is like baby formula or Vegemite. We are raised on it from an early age and it becomes part of our DNA. To people newly introduced to the game, it looks a bit like the dark arts.

      So here goes. Try this 7-minute video which explains how you score runs, how you get batsmen out and what the game entails. Who knows, maybe you can get the game going in Mexico! http://youtu.be/hEbOL09ACww

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    • The best cricket site is Cricinfo. One of the oldest sites on the web, yet still marvelous for us cricket fans. Loads of information and up-to-date with all the latest news. If you don’t use it, give it a try

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  6. According to Wikipedia, One of the most remarkable families in the early history of the team were the Shevill sisters. Fernie Blade (née Shevill) played against England in the first Test at Brisbane in 1934–35, and her twin Irene Shevill appeared in the next two. Another sister, Essie Shevill, played in all three of those matches, and her twin Lily Shevill also played for New South Wales. Role models for us all!

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