Almanac Cricket: A bit of diversity and respect, please

I had intended to write about the test cricket series between Australia and New Zealand earlier than December, but I found myself swinging between seething and high dudgeon about the ABC commentary.

I spent a large amount of time for the Brisbane test in early November in the car around the Wangaratta region. After the first session I thought, well, they’ll have a woman commentator on soon. By the end of the day I needed to take to the coolness of my hotel room and turn the wireless off. I discovered that the four key commentators were all (marvellous) blokes and there wasn’t a woman on the regular commentary panel.

On some of the days of the test, the host studio presenter was Karen Tighe. But not for the actual cricket commentary.

And so it continues. I am writing this on the first day of the Australia and West Indies test and still no woman on the regular commentary team.

I have taken this problem to the regular problem solving watering hole, which is my dining table on Tuesday nights when all the family plus a few others come and have a meal. My (only) brother said to me that he thought it a good idea to have a woman, as long as her voice is “right”. He complained that there are some women on the wireless (yes, we are old at my dining table) whose voices are not of the right modulation. On querying this, it seems the voices shouldn’t be too high pitched, or low pitched for that matter. They must be just right.

Here’s the rub: as a woman, I can cope with a different pitch. Women shouldn’t have to emulate the voices of men to do cricket, or any other, commentary. Why can’t they be as they are, in the same way that men’s voices are accepted? My thesis is that the different pitches of women’s voices are not accepted because they just don’t get a run on the sports commentary.

So, Aunty, and to quote Justin Trudeau, because it’s 2015 I think it’s time that we had at least one woman on the regular (and not just guest) panel. Yes, the current men are noble professional broadcasters or ex-cricket players. There are plenty of outstanding professional women broadcasters and female ex-cricket players too. I’ll help you find them if you like.

Then, this week, we had Mr Alan Hawke, chairman of the Canberra Raiders, outlining the wonderful work the Raiders are doing to identify opportunities for the rugby league team to be more embracing of women. By the way, I am a big fan of Mr Hawke and all he has done to support and promote women in senior roles.

Mr Hawke was quoted as saying that the Raiders would consider the appointment of a second female board member in 2016. He noted that the club was happy with the current board structure, having tried to get an additional female on the board earlier; but that didn’t work out. It seems that the Raiders approached Erin Molan, a Canberra woman and sports commentator with Channel 9, but Channel 9 wouldn’t allow her to join the board. This is fascinating, given the male commentators for Channel 9 who are chairmen of AFL teams.

So, while Mr Hawke gets my congratulations for looking to have an extra woman, he made it sound as if he was hunting for a needle in a haystack. There are plenty of savvy, corporate, sports minded women in Canberra, the region and then the nation; but apparently they’re hard to find. There are eight Raiders’ board members, one of whom is a woman. I would have liked to see Mr Hawke hunt for more than one additional woman!

And today, off gender equity for a moment, I have read about the unsavoury comments made by Mr Tony Harrison, an independent board member of Cricket Australia, concerning the quest by Cricket ACT to get a test match to the nation’s capital. The ACT has a good attendance rate at first-class cricket matches. This is because Manuka Oval is a very attractive venue for those not just within the Territory, but also from the surrounding region. Cricket ACT has been able to estimate a crowd attendance that would make it worthwhile for a test match to be scheduled in Canberra.

Mr Harrison accused ACT officials of being fat cat bureaucrats – a rather crude attempt at belittling not just Cricket ACT but also the average Canberran. He fails to grasp that the ACT serves a region of more than 600,000. For each international cricket match held at Manuka, there has been a terrific attendance.

If it comes down to allocating a test match to either Hobart or Manuka, surely there is enough room for this to be rotated?

All three problems could be solved by having some formulas as well as transparency in processes. Women are more than 50% of the population and should surely be considered worthy of being ABC commentators or Raiders’ board members. As for allocation of tests, why not have an open bidding process that includes a formula whereby regional Australia is also served?


About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Thanks ACL. Much to consider in there. The gender lens is more than an intellectual tool. It seeks change because change is needed. Have you raised this in ABC circles? I imagine you would have a few sympathetic ears at 666Canberra (by the way, that’s ABC Canberra’s frequency). The approach will need to be longer term though. Emerging commentators – male or female – take years to develop the craft. Geoff Lemon, in my view an excellent addition to the ABC coverage, has been working on his ball-by-ball descriptions for some years. He may have an opporunity some time. I have also enjoyed Alison Mitchell’s commentary.

  2. Great piece. I thought similar when the ABC radio team popped up in my feed. Some great voices there, generally well down the knob-spectrum from the TV mob, but…. a bunch of middle class white males, talking to us middle aged middle class white males.

    I heard Meg Lanning doing some commentary and thinking work a while back (maybe Ashes?). Anyway, she was superb. Fits my (male) construct on the focus on technique in the women’s game, but I don’t really care. Clever, expressive, incisive and not full of her self. Draft her in!

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