February 5, 2013

Women's World Cup 2013

A quieter and purer game

Vidya Hariharan
India celebrate after Kycia Knight is run out, India v West Indies, Women's World Cup 2013, Group A, Mumbai, January 31, 2013
The women's game has more camaraderie, and less commerce  © AFP
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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!

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mohana on (February 9, 2013, 2:20 GMT)

Not at all a cricket fan myself, in fact irritated when the game is on as the rest of the world goes crazy. But after this piece, you have a conversion on your hands vidya! Will watch cricket played by women, for they are proving that women are not passive receivers of abuse, violence and lewd comments ! Women need not be in a man's world.... They have their own! And they have proved that ... This comment is not for having entered a man's domain.... It is for all those thoughts too which are proving that gender bias is foolishness, and that all those comments about the women being the weaker sex, women needing to prove themselves, glass ceiling effect etc. WRONG and baseless!,,

Posted by K9H on (February 7, 2013, 12:44 GMT)

Purer indeed. Sri Lanka women could have easily (ok with some risk of losing the game) got 4 super-six points by letting India score 250 odd runs required for qualification and thereby ousting WIndies. But they opted to go for the emphatic win instead!

Posted by Meety on (February 7, 2013, 1:30 GMT)

I have always enjoyed watching women's cricket when it was on TV. I agree that it is a more pure version of what the men play. There is no brute force to smash the ball, it has to be hit with technique & timing.

Posted by Balachandhran S on (February 6, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

Agreed! And it is nice to know that there are ladies too who would watch any game of cricket running on the telly!

I am also glad that they did not go for a different kind of uniform for the women cricketers just to make the game more 'interesting'! Imagine girls wearing skirts like in tennis. For that matter, I am not quite sure why the girls in tennis cannot wear regular shorts....

Posted by Varun on (February 6, 2013, 14:13 GMT)

Very nicely put ..... refreshing to see cricket in its "pure" form if I may say so; keeping the commercial sharks at bay.

Posted by Ajit Panda on (February 6, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

Some changes has to be done with some 'Cricketing English' and thoughts to stop marking Cricket as a perticular gender centric. The 'Third Man' may be changed to 'Fine Off' (as 'Fine Leg'), 'Batsman' maybe changed to simply 'Batter'. We must give full respect to dignity of the Sport itself, not gendering it. BTW, why are there the Men Umpires officiating the Women's game? Are Women not suffice to officiate the game of Cricket by the virtue of their talent of making decission? ICC must have a re-look on this.

Posted by kumar rajagopalan on (February 6, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

good article. at least it gives a different look at the same game. women who follow the game can be encouraged to write about the game (men and women cricket) in days to come.

Posted by Nirav Shah on (February 6, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

Vidya, beautifully written...loved the flow and descriptions...keep it up...waiting for more of such nice articles....

Posted by The Reality on (February 6, 2013, 3:34 GMT)

Quiter for sure! Purer.. Not sure. I thought it was good but not the best. The techniques of batsmen and quality of overall cricket was unfortunately not good. Live actions looked like action replay, it is that slow.

Posted by AJAX on (February 6, 2013, 3:16 GMT)

As a feminist, I am disappointed by this piece. It reinforces the age-old stereotypes that women are not as intense and have lower levels of concentration ("look a lot more relaxed"), that they are lighter, full of grace and refreshing, oh so wonderfully different from men. Its like you can never treat them on the same plane as men without comparing them to men, even if it is to describe how they easily transcend men's faults.

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