Cricket heading towards becoming gender neutral
The earliest reference to cricket is in South East England in the mid-16th century. The pioneer cricket club was Hambledon Club in Hampshire County founded in 1750. It nursed and natured cricket during its infancy to become the game’s greatest club. The elite in London moved and founded the illustrious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1787. It coincided with the opening of the renowned Lord’s Cricket ground. MCC soon became the sport’s premier club guiding and governing the game and the custodian of the Laws of Cricket introduced in the latter part of the 18th century. Presently, though the game is governed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) but the Laws of Cricket still remain within the domain of the MCC.
With the Women’s cricket hogging equal limelight on the electronic media with their male counterparts, the term batsman, at times, sounded odd for female players. Over the past four years, the ICC has been moving away from the word ‘batsman’, with ‘batter’ being used intermittently in commentary and across the organisation’s channels. The change in nomenclature from batsman to batter has finally been accepted by the MCC.
The television viewers and radio listeners will hear the word batter during the forthcoming Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.The ICC has confirmed that it will replace ‘batsman’ in all playing conditions. The beginning was made in September when MCC announced it would be replacing the word ‘batsman’ with ‘batter’ in the Laws of Cricket. That change will now be reflected across all ICC playing conditions going forward.
The acting CEO, ICC Geoff Allardice said the MCC’s decision to move to ‘batter’ in the Laws of the game was one they ‘welcomed’. “The ICC has been utilising the term batter for some time now across our channels and in commentary and we welcome the MCC’s decision to implement it into the Laws of cricket and will follow suit with our playing conditions that are derived from the Laws. This is a natural and perhaps overdue evolution of our sport and now our batters are gender-neutral in the same way as bowlers, fielders and wicket-keepers. It’s a small change, but one that I hope will have significant impact on cricket being viewed as a more inclusive sport,” Allardice said.
For ICC Hall of Famer and former Australian female star Lisa Sthalekar said, “The move to ‘batter’ is a simple but important one in growing a sport that truly is for everyone. Unaware cricket was a sport played by women as a child, Sthalekar went on to become one of the finest players Australia who later stepped into commentary box.”
Having grown up using the term ‘batter’ as a player, she stuck to the word when she stepped behind the microphone and remembers being told by a co-commentator in one of her earliest stints that “batter was for fish”.
“We don’t say ‘hey look at that fieldsman’, we say ‘look at the fielder’. We don’t say ‘bowlsman’, we say ‘bowler’,” she said in a ICC match following the MCC decision.
“So if there is a similar term to describe someone with a piece of wood in their hands, why wouldn’t we follow suit?”
It’s worth noting that up until this century, the phrase ‘fieldsman’ was the accepted term with the MCC stepping in 2000. Now a days, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone saying ‘fieldsman’.