Thursday, 22 March 2012

T*TS! Now that I've got your attention...

Hands up who watches a lot of women's cricket. Be honest. Now, lower your hand if you're somehow involved in the women's game; coach, player, statistician, whatever. Anyone left?

My hand isn't up, and that's not just because I'm typing at the moment. I watched a lot of cricket last year. It started with the England / Australia ODIs and the World Cup on TV. Then we had the county season where I took up residence in the stands at the Oval. I listened to the commentary on my computer at home. Sri Lanka series on the TV with a brief attempt to watch a day of the Test live (bloody rain). India tests on TV and a couple of glorious days at the Oval. More county stuff, more international stuff. Cricket all over the place.

Men's cricket, anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I love men's cricket and not just because my inner bimbo appreciates the view of the slip cordon from the Pavilion. But it occurred to me towards the end of the year that I hadn't seen ANY women's games and this is a damn shame. I didn't deliberately shun women's cricket. I ashamed to admit that I didn't really think much about going to any. Now, at the risk of sounding like I'm making dreadful excuses, part of the reason was that it just wasn't brought to my attention. There's a lot of stuff about the men's game on CricInfo and all of the county sites. Not much, if any, about the women.

OK, I accept that there isn't as much money or audience in women's cricket. But that's a bit of a catch 22 these days. The general public will watch what's available to watch and, to a great extent, what they are told is good to watch. True fanatics will spend ages online trying to find illicit pirate totally legit and legal thankyouverymuchGilesClark streams for games they want to watch but most people opt for what's readily available. You can't find it easily... so nobody watches it... but nobody watches women's cricket... so there's no point showing it... er, hang on a minute...

The fixtures page for Surrey CCC has large clicky buttons for the First XI, Second XI and Academy schedules but not for the Women's. There is no information about the female players on the site at all. At the pre-season lunch, Ebony Rainford-Brent said, half-joking, that she and the team were thinking about setting up a website for information on the Surrey Ladies but why should they have to? Why isn't it on the website?

In case you're wondering where the women's cricket is on CricInfo...

I'm not the first person to point out the "other" issue on CricInfo, but it's become a bit of a crusade for me (not to mention a Twitter hashtag). You know that little box where you can get scores and fixtures? International, Domestic, etc. 'International' covers what you'd think - Tests, ODIs and so on. It also includes any game where a Test or Associate nation plays a side without either status and second/emerging XI games between Test nations. (Also, interestingly enough, covered the England first team v England Lions when they were playing in the UAE.) All good? Matches between two sides who don't have Test or Associate status appear under the 'Other' tab.  Oh, and women's cricket:

India and Australia. They play cricket over there? Who knew?!

The England women just came back from New Zealand where they were truly spectacular (and a couple of matches were actually shown on Sky but I bet you they wouldn't have been if there had been a clashing men's game). In fact, the England women's team have been pretty darn brilliant all over the place. One of the things I remember in my life BC (before cricket) is being really amused how the women were kicking arse at cricket while the men were floundering. So why, if an Eng / NZ men's ODI appears under 'International', does an Eng / NZ women's ODI not appear in the same slot? Oh yeah, it's because women don't play "proper" sport. They should be on that tether between the kitchen and the bedroom, right! You think I'm being ridiculous here? Not if a recent Facebook post by Twelfth Man is anything to go by...

The trolls come out to play. Sigh.
Of the first 10 comments, 4 are the inevitable "hurr hurr, yeah, I'd like the girls to show me a thing or two" and two immediately get their knickers in a twist over how it's ridiculous to compare women's and men's cricket. There's more further down the thread. I'm not sure which group I find more upsetting, really. The trolls annoy me but there will be idiots like this everywhere. If I let men like that get to me, I would be in a state of frothing rage every moment of my life. The other guys are missing the point completely.  Twelfth Man aren't saying that the women's team could beat the men's team if they played head to head. They're not claiming you can do a like-for-like comparison between bowlers or batsmen*...

But...but... the women's team can't play the men's!! What if the men lose?
Er, excuse me people, I SAID they're not claiming you can do a like-for-like comparison! Hello! I said... oh, never mind. I really like the one about "for their own safety". Aww, bless, I'm sure the fragile little girlies appreciate your concern.
Did you really expect me not to weigh in on this?
So, I had my say and I stand by what I wrote. I'm not saying that the women's team could beat the men's. I'm not saying they couldn't either. But the women were doing what the men were failing to do - showing reliability and consistency across all disciplines. The Twelfth Man post went up when the England men's side were playing Tests against Pakistan, where the batsmen entirely failed to do what was needed. The women were a more complete team and it showed. I love the bit about 'Afridi leg-break', incidentally. Would that be Shahid Afridi, leading wicket taker in last year's World Cup that you're talking about? Just asking...

The thing is, nothing is going to change unless someone makes a fuss. Why should CricInfo change where they list women's cricket, or your local club spend the time uploading stats and pictures of the ladies' squad if they think nobody cares one way or the other? I recently left a message on Surrey's Facebook wall asking for them to sort this and, apparently, they are going to upload details of the Surrey Ladies. A good start. So please do the same - if your school or local village club or county doesn't have the information that you want, ask them.

This is my pledge: this year I will get out and see as much women's cricket as I can. I will take my son, so that he can see that cricket is for everyone. And I will keep on bothering CricInfo until they put women's International games where they should be. Who's with me?

* I'm reliably informed that the term is 'batsman' no matter the gender of the person playing. And by "reliably informed" I mean that Sarah Taylor said so in an interview, and she should know.


  1. Great post. I was trying to follow the NZ v Eng ODIs on Cricinfo, but they weren't even doing a proper ball by ball, just updating a scorecard every few deliveries. It was very frustrating, especially when Edwards hit that massive unbeaten hundred.

    I did read that the recent ECB/BBC radio deal will include more women's games though, so I'm optimistic about the direction it's taking in England.

    1. I found that the New Zealand cricket website was much better for following the games - they actually do proper ball by ball throughout.

      I hope that there will be more women's cricket on the TV and radio, and that it's promoted properly. Now we just need to encourage as many people as possible to watch/listen so that they can't fall back on "well, nobody's interested".

  2. More gold. It looks like I'll have to start looking for that Mad Butcher doll.... As a member at the Oval, why not offer to write up the women's profiles for the website? I'm sure the women's side could persuade the county. Wouldn't it be great to be able to provide photos and bios and do something a little different? It'd be a great way to meet the women's side too.

    1. Thanks. I'd love to get more involved at the Oval, although I know stuff-all about websites. I met Ebony Rainford-Brent at the members' do and she was really lovely so hopefully I can get her onside.

  3. another fine piece , point well made

  4. Agree wholeheartedly with your post, Rowan. A couple more points that annoy me: Claire Taylor was on Radio 3 earlier in the week, and was introduced as having achieved the most runs in an ODI at Lord's of anyone, male or female. I thought I'd check that, and found there is no way to compare men and women on Statsguru, even for records like this which are completely equivalent.
    Secondly, I've been trying to buy a women's ODI kit for more than a year now, and I can't find one for love nor money. The ECB releases their new test and ODI kit with much fanfare, but no sign of a women's one. I don't want a baggy men's one, or a boys one that doesn't really fit. If there are England kits designed to fit babies, why aren't there ones for female fans?
    Katy (@ithilienorthend)

    1. Last season I asked in the Oval shop about getting women's shirts and was told that there just isn't the demand to make it worth while getting them made up, shipped, shop space etc. They made a valid point that the majority of female fans at the Oval are older and not interested in buying replica kit for themselves - fair play but frustrating for the likes of us women who DO want one.

      That said, I'm not sure the same would hold for England kit. Surely there's a wide enough potential market for those. Hmm, something to add to the crusade!