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
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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!

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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!,,

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!,,

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • wilo on February 6, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    You're right that charm is inversely proportional to commercialism – that's why the IPL is so distasteful. Not entirely sure that your remarks about the respective shapes of men and women are particularly helpful (or accurate, for that matter – do you think that David Warner looks the same as Hashim Amla, for example? In any way?). Other than that, if the regular non sequitur and over-use of dashes are overlooked, this is a pleasant little piece.

  • Stevo on February 6, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    It's a shame that cricinfo haven't covered the World Cup that well, with only limited live commentary .

  • Anonymous on February 5, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    Very well written piece. The women's game would be even purer if they got the chance to play some test matches as well, apart from continuous one-day matches

  • Saleel on February 5, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    Who is this indian commentator you speak of towards the end?

  • jyothi iyengar on February 5, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Your passion for the game and for writing is very well articulated in this blog. Enjoyed the flow, in as much as the game in itself!! Thumbs up!!

  • Chetan Nitnawre on February 5, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article . Vidya u r gifted! Waiting for your next piece!

  • omar nawaz on February 5, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Not the occasional sixer but regular ones from one Kaushaliya of Sri Lanka. 56 runs off 41 balls against England and another 56 in 31 balls that did really rout India!

  • Baz on February 5, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Totally agree women's cricket has an ebb and flow of its own. Cannot ignore the technical ability the players demonstrate and the occasional power shot.

  • Rahul Panchal on February 5, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    ALL we need better broadcasting and promotion..our board is not keen on Test matches and Promoting the woman's cricket team..Do u know our board hasnt ever invited the Bangladesh cricket team to india for a tour! because they wont generate great revenues..am glad to hear the world cup matches are free to draw more crowds..il try and attend the next match and cheer our girls up.!! its a pity that such a great sport is in the hands of MONEY MINDED pe ople !:( SPort is sport irrespective who plays it..

  • Naman Ramachandran on February 5, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Superb, evocative piece on an often neglected and unheralded subject. More from this writer, please.

  • Vikash Agarwal on February 5, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    I appreciated you writing a blog on the topic... It was probably the same guilt (and credit goes to ad campaigns) that I started following India Women's cricket team this world cup. I was amazed to find batsmen who have multiple centuries under their belt... Mitali being not the only player.. Though Kaur's century went in vain, but it showed fight till the end and probably in a scenario of NRR comparison in today's match against SL, we would appreciate her century more than ever... One thing though... being a world cup, I expected it to be a lot better in terms of... ..... commentary on cricinfo.... I believe not sure though, that its only in some nations that womens' cricket is not so appealing... when I see English bowlers sending bouncers and taking great catches (looking more athletic as well), I suppose they deserve better presentation... what does it take to have some trainee commentators of cricinfo prove their skills on these matches?

  • vasudevan on February 5, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    Nice to note someone write about women's cricket. The women were playing the game in a truely gentle man manner. The games are not as soft as people perceive as they also show aggression too & there are occasional sixes as well. The pace of the bower or the fielder or that of the batsman may be lesser / slower. But the elegance is still there. I was pleasantly surprised to see the attempted reverse sweep too apart from the diving catch. The worst part is the empty stadium & the common problem probably is that of the names not being identified easily due to the lack of exposure, a crime which I am party to as well. By the end of the world cup I will surely be able to recognise a few cricketers by name and image of the India side at least. Some more ads and some encouragement can surely drive more interest in these matches.

  • Alpha19 on February 5, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    "VC" Awesomely worded. Loved reading it - although it was about cricket. Loved the flow of it. Thanks for the good evening read!

  • @E_Perry_Admirer on February 5, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Watching my first ever Women´s ODI World Cup, and have to say at least I am impressed with the quality of cricket. Some very good matches so far with Sri Lanka versus England being the best.

  • Pushpesh on February 5, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    Exactly my thoughts. Very engaging and absorbing games.

  • Harlequin on February 5, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Seconded! On all points.

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  • Harlequin on February 5, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    Seconded! On all points.

  • Pushpesh on February 5, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    Exactly my thoughts. Very engaging and absorbing games.

  • @E_Perry_Admirer on February 5, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Watching my first ever Women´s ODI World Cup, and have to say at least I am impressed with the quality of cricket. Some very good matches so far with Sri Lanka versus England being the best.

  • Alpha19 on February 5, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    "VC" Awesomely worded. Loved reading it - although it was about cricket. Loved the flow of it. Thanks for the good evening read!

  • vasudevan on February 5, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    Nice to note someone write about women's cricket. The women were playing the game in a truely gentle man manner. The games are not as soft as people perceive as they also show aggression too & there are occasional sixes as well. The pace of the bower or the fielder or that of the batsman may be lesser / slower. But the elegance is still there. I was pleasantly surprised to see the attempted reverse sweep too apart from the diving catch. The worst part is the empty stadium & the common problem probably is that of the names not being identified easily due to the lack of exposure, a crime which I am party to as well. By the end of the world cup I will surely be able to recognise a few cricketers by name and image of the India side at least. Some more ads and some encouragement can surely drive more interest in these matches.

  • Vikash Agarwal on February 5, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    I appreciated you writing a blog on the topic... It was probably the same guilt (and credit goes to ad campaigns) that I started following India Women's cricket team this world cup. I was amazed to find batsmen who have multiple centuries under their belt... Mitali being not the only player.. Though Kaur's century went in vain, but it showed fight till the end and probably in a scenario of NRR comparison in today's match against SL, we would appreciate her century more than ever... One thing though... being a world cup, I expected it to be a lot better in terms of... ..... commentary on cricinfo.... I believe not sure though, that its only in some nations that womens' cricket is not so appealing... when I see English bowlers sending bouncers and taking great catches (looking more athletic as well), I suppose they deserve better presentation... what does it take to have some trainee commentators of cricinfo prove their skills on these matches?

  • Naman Ramachandran on February 5, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Superb, evocative piece on an often neglected and unheralded subject. More from this writer, please.

  • Rahul Panchal on February 5, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    ALL we need better broadcasting and promotion..our board is not keen on Test matches and Promoting the woman's cricket team..Do u know our board hasnt ever invited the Bangladesh cricket team to india for a tour! because they wont generate great revenues..am glad to hear the world cup matches are free to draw more crowds..il try and attend the next match and cheer our girls up.!! its a pity that such a great sport is in the hands of MONEY MINDED pe ople !:( SPort is sport irrespective who plays it..

  • Baz on February 5, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Totally agree women's cricket has an ebb and flow of its own. Cannot ignore the technical ability the players demonstrate and the occasional power shot.

  • omar nawaz on February 5, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    Not the occasional sixer but regular ones from one Kaushaliya of Sri Lanka. 56 runs off 41 balls against England and another 56 in 31 balls that did really rout India!