Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A womens touch.

The pot is being stirred in the County Championship as it seems there is a hidden tone of sexism lying among us all. As it was openly announced that Sarah Taylor, wicket-keeper / batsman for England is pursuing the option of playing cricket with the Sussex 2nd XI.

Seems 'a much to do about nothing' as it wildly accepted that excellently skilled womens cricketers quite regularly ply their trade among the various Premier grades and the like across England & Australia for that matter.

Sarah Taylor for those unaware, is widely regarded as one Englands finest cricketers within the womens game, as sharp with the gloves as she is to stroke a wayward delivery.

The news that Sussex CCC is in talks to have her move across from the women's program to be involved in the Men's 2nd XI, has sparked debate to rage about the very real possibility of her turning out for the 1st XI.

There are two very sharp edges from this issue that are worth pondering; firstly put forward by the majority such as Guardian columnist Mike Selvy that this move is one that could be inspiring, and by no means a small step for an already talented cricketer. Of course there is concern of harm; as nobody wishes to hit a girl, yet in the heat of battle a short ball is bound to bowled in her direction and would this seem to within the gentlemanly unwritten rules of cricket.

Sarah Taylor no doubt would have to develop her skill set to combat such onslaughts to her technique; nothing new to any batsman who up a level in play. And a move from Premier level cricket to 2nd XI County is no more than a different pavilion, same pitch in standard in most cases.

Then the minority which will stand to be painted with a sexist tag see this move as negative to Women's cricket and something I can almost agree with. While I have no doubt the reams of paper and outward social media attention this debate has sparked will do wonders for little 'Lucy' the aspiring young cricketer to follow in her hero's footsteps; it can no doubt be seen as a possible destruction of women's cricket and its developmental pathways.

If all of the countries elite women were to sign over in the following years with men's county sides where would it leave the women's game? Will it further reinforce the men's game as "real cricket"? Or if she makes it into the men's game and does well, will this lift women's cricket in prestige and popularity?

Women who have broken through the glass ceiling in other areas have changed our perception of what women can accomplish. But it has rarely changed the rules and possibilities. It's not surprising if women cricketers are in two minds: yes, we want Taylor to show her stuff – and validate our game and the way we play it.

Major leaps have certainly been taken within International Womens Cricket; TV (Sky Sports) televising matches; and series running concurrent, if not as curtain raisers to the men. And the crowds are responding. Isn't there a danger that it will begin to impoverish the women's game if the men's game were to take its star players and hide them away on background pitches and academy halls than the bright lights?

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