Monday, 26 June 2017

There's nothing wrong 'women's sport'; it's just different

Yesterday I was one of the smattering of fans who actually paid to go to Leicestershire’s Grace Road cricket ground to watch the opening group game of the ICC Women’s World Cup.

One ‘Cricketeer’ volunteer muttered to me ‘You must be one of the few that has paid’. If you take away passholders, parents of children who were guards of honour and members of the gospel choir arranged as entertainment during breaks in play he was probably right.

‘I wouldn’t be here except for the fact I received a discount as a Leicestershire member’ was my reply.

It’s a shame because Pakistan v South Africa was an excellent game. But it certainly wasn’t the same standard as a Leicestershire County Championship game, let alone any team plying their trade towards the top of the professional leagues.

I loved every minute of yesterday’s game, it’s just that it was undoubtedly Women’s Cricket. The physicality between journeymen professionals and those at the top of the women’s game could not compare. The women playing on a much smaller pitch, obstructed annoyingly for those at the ground by a fence placed for sponsors but preventing any supporter seeing a four being scored, was testimony to the difference. Women’s Cricket is women’s cricket; something to be supported and enjoyed but very different from the male variant. The same can be said of women’s tennis or women’s soccer.

The whole point is calling a game ‘Women’s’ is no bad thing.

In virtually every sport women play on a literally different playing field. Not lesser just different.
Clearly I am not a woman and my generalisations are just as sweeping as those of Matt Butler in his iNews piece ‘One day women’s sport will be known as ‘sport’’ but a couple of weeks ago my wife, in her youth a keen sportswoman, was invited to take part in a Prosecco cricket match.

For the first time in years she said ‘Yes’ to sport. She loved the fact that the game could be enjoyed with the promise of a swig of Italian fizz every now and then. She loved the competitiveness but not the testosterone fuelled sort associated with the male game.  She was more than happy to being playing the woman’s game.

And isn’t that the point? Calling a sport Women’s Cricket is no more demeaning than watching colt’s rugby or wheelchair tennis. It is a different variant of the sport. Nothing more, nothing less.

Next Sunday I will be back at Grace Road watching the South African women face off against the West Indies. I won’t be expecting to see the same style of game I might when Leicestershire play against Durham the next time the County Championship rolls up at Grace Road. It won’t have the big sixes putting car windscreens at risk, but I have no doubt it will be a top level example of what it is. Women’s cricket. 

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