Women's World Cup 2013 February 5, 2013

A quieter and purer game

Vidya Hariharan
First let me just say that there is something about watching tall, lanky, lithe women, with flowing hair held back by headbands, display aggression - makes for compelling viewing

Star Cricket's interesting ad campaign and a certain sense of gender-based guilt has got me watching the women's World Cup. I'm, what's politely called, "a rabid cricket fan" - which means I will watch any match, anytime, anywhere.

So. Back to the cricket. First let me just say that there is something about watching tall, lanky, lithe women, with flowing hair held back by headbands, display aggression - makes for compelling viewing. There's not enough power. If you've been weaned on a steady diet of the male version of the game you do miss that. Strikes don't go as far, the ball is not attacked as much and throws from the deep don't make it back as quickly. That throws your viewing judgment off - hits don't go to the boundary - even at Brabourne which has a decently fast outfield - and throws come back slower - so they run more runs than you expect. Your heart pumps and you are busy screaming at them to "not run on the throw" - only to realise that of course they can.

Loved Mark Butcher's pitch report - when he said - "The girls play as intensely but are a lot lighter - so as you can see, the pitch is in beautiful shape, even though we had a game yesterday!" The shapes are more interesting. Not as muscle-bound. More grace. Men - if you will excuse my bluntness - all look the same! So once the helmet is on - there's not much to see. With the women - this is not the case. They remind me of the shape of the athletes in the eighties who used to play - before the gym and the bulk and the protein shakes all became mandatory.

It's a quieter, purer game. No commercials so you can see the on-field body-language, hear the comments and chatter between overs. That's something I've always enjoyed about telecasts from other countries - because there isn't as much velocity of commercial noise as with Indian broadcasts - you can really hear the sounds of the game.

There's a lot more camaraderie. Every single batsman who is dismissed has something to say to the incoming batsman and exchange a gentle glove bump. Never seen the men do that! They are usually too busy mouthing off at themselves, or shaking their head at perceived umpiring slights, to focus on the game.

Our commentators struggle with nomenclature. I don't understand why they insist on using the word batswoman - that's like saying "chairwoman" - an archaic term which has now been replaced by the ubiquitous "chairman" - applied to both genders. I think language has to change to reflect context rather than gender. For example, I'm fine being called "Sir" - where the term is applied out of respect or to the leader of the pack!

The interviews with the players are much more fun to hear. The women smile a lot more, they laugh delightedly, look a lot more relaxed, and tellingly - sound less "finished" and "prepared". You can tell that the PR guys have not got at them as yet. One final plus, they have women commentators who are professionals- and not some mis-guided attempt at eye-candy, a trap which I was sorry to see the Big Bash League fall into this year. Wish they would keep them on in place of a certain Indian commentator who's mangled, inaccurate commentary has all of us fans blushing in discomfiture. Can the best "man" please take over here?

To use a food analogy, the overall experience is like having a sorbet - light, airy and refreshing. Love it. Will take it over any commercial brand of ice-cream or the Indian Kulfi - anyday!