Equality is something the majority of people like to strive for, or perhaps participate in. Sport, however, seems to be a whole different playing field at times.
Australia has a reputation for producing strong cricket sides. However, it seems to be a little known fact that the Australian women’s cricket team, the Southern Stars, have been setting the bar across the world for women’s teams for several years now.
The problem isn’t the gameplay quality; women can bat and bowl just as well as men, albeit they may not strike it as far. On that subject, I’ve both captained female cricketers, and played with and against them. They are certainly no slouches with the willow or ball.
No, the issue is (and has been for several years) the coverage of women’s sport. While the issue covers not just cricket, I’m focusing on the summer sport here.
In one word, the coverage could be described as awful. There has been a rise in viewership due to online streaming, but on a whole it needs to be improved. The women’s game is definitely a product that would not be a flop on TV. The Women’s World Cup, being held in India this month, is only going to get limited coverage on Pay TV. Pretty disappointing for a team who has won so many pieces of silverware.
A fix will not happen overnight, but a start would be better promotion and advertisement of the game in general. The almost background nature of women’s cricket means it does not attract the crowds. Add to that no coverage on TV bar possibly the World Cup, and it seems a bit bleak in the women’s game.
Just look at these next few names: Meg Lanning, Lisa Sthalekar and Cathryn Fitzpatrick. The first is a current young gun of a batsman, the second a former Australian vice captain, and the third Australia’s fastest ever female bowler. She even has the honour of having bowled out West Indian legend Brian Lara.
There’s even wunderkind Ellyse Perry, who has represented Australia at the top level in both soccer and cricket. Surely this screams attention.
Problem is they’re not getting the limelight they deserve, and it’s badly hurting the image of the game. The pay rates (which I am not privy to) aren’t exactly flash either. In my eyes, it seems that for the quality they’re playing, the women are not receiving in kind. After a big tournament or competition, they disappear back into the shadows. Recognition is scarce.
There is no overnight fix unfortunately; in the future, however, the recognition of the women’s game is going to skyrocket (even now it is beginning to climb). Cricket Australia (CA) has begun to improve what we see in the women’s game, but more needs to be done. Funding is at a premium in sport these days; but CA is doing everything it can to promote the women’s game in Australia. All the factors are there, they just need to be built on.