Cricket, Skin Cancer and Women

It was with great sadness, but also puzzlement, that I watched the press conference and read about the Great Richie Benaud’s current battle with skin cancer.

Who’d have thunk that a fair skinned cricketer playing in the 1950s and 1960s would end up with skin cancer? Doh! I hope his treatment is successful, however, and that he is able to continue to give Australia the benefit of his wisdom and intellect as far as the cricket world is concerned.

His reminder to cricketers to wear a hat is timely as we head into what already appears to be a hotter summer than usual. I hope that cricketers young and old will heed The Great Man’s advice.

My puzzlement, though, stemmed from the fact that the commentary team was proudly announced. Channel 9 had no shame in promoting it as a lead story on their website or in the evening news.

Was I the only Australian ashamed that, in the year 2014, there were eleven white men unveiled as the voice of cricket for 2014/15? Nary a woman in sight, other than to make sure ties were straight and dandruff was removed from the gentlemen’s jackets.

Why is that? Are women uninformed about cricket? Are they hopeless on television? Do they detract from the game? Or is it just not cricket to include women in the team?

As one of six children, five of whom are girls, I went to the authority on this matter: my only brother. He said he didn’t mind women commentating, as long as they didn’t have irritating voices.

So let’s peel that onion back: I find Bill Lawry’s whining voice irritating, but he knows a lot about cricket. And while Shane Warne knows a lot about cricket, one could hardly describe his commentary as erudite or indeed as John Arlott-esque.

If one has to be a past player to be on the commentary squad, then look no further than the very successful Australian women’s team which is having significantly more success than the First XI men’s team. And there are some fabulous women, past and present, who would be outstanding commentators. I am sure they could be trusted to talk about more than whether Brad Haddin’s trousers are sheer and ergo whether women throughout the country should know the brand of his undies.

I have never seen commentary team vacancies advertised, so I presume that gentlemen are just tapped on the shoulder to come on board, m a a t e. I for one think it’s time that the commentary team represented the game of cricket: its players and supporters, including women.  And I should mention that I have nothing against the current men on the commentary team (other than the foibles already noted).  My problem is that there are no women.

I wonder when a woman, or even two women, will receive the tap on the shoulder to come on board, l o v e?

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. Dr Goatboat says

    Shades of Team Australia! And likely to be no more effective or erudite……always felt Kate Fitz was hard done by…….it may have been an Adelaide thing, just as the way KG was treated all those years ago….

  2. Who listens to the TV commentary anyway Anne? Just turn the sound down and turn up the radio. True, still no female voices, but is it really all that important?

  3. Well written Anne. It seems to many of the power brokers, living in the 21st century is a concept not a reality. Cricket coverage appears to reflect aspects of Team Australia, made up of, and for, white aussie males.

    Footy seems to have reached the 21st century with female journalists and commentators taking their rightful role in covering the indigenous game. Cricket however is a different case.

    Beyond Chloe Saltau in The Age i can’t think of too many other female journalists writing on cricket. The token female TV presenter appears once or twice every blue moon. Come on Channel 9, the ACA, and Sky TV, remember that great Chinese adage, “women hold up half the sky”, then put it in to practice re commentary of cricket .


  4. I thought I heard Meg Lanning (not sure – but certainly a female voice) doing ABC radio commentary with David Morrow from the Shield game in Sydney last weekend. She knows her stuff, and it will just take a little time (as it does for males) for her to find her ‘voice’ in the commentary box. More please.

  5. On a brighter note, Lawry’s response to Benaud’s skin cancer announcement was absolute gold:

    “He’d burst through the gate with the shirt open and the Brylcreem and the tan, it was just magnificent,” he said. “Forget the skin cancers Richie, you looked beautiful back then.”

  6. Hi Anne,

    I watch footy and rugby union mainly so have not much knowledge of cricket including commentating. But your article is great to read with good points of views.

    I also am impressed with Glen’s comment. Samantha Lane writes for the Age and appears on Channel 7’s Saturday Night Footy Live Coverage. Why doesn’t Channel 9 have female commentator on live cricket coverage?

    It’s 21st Century. This year, St Kilda Footy Club hired Peta Searle as an assistant coach. It is a good move in footy, so having female commentators should happen.


  7. Anne Cahill Lambert says

    My only brother has just read this post and agrees with me that Shane Warne is irritating. He tells me that he would much rather have Liz Hurley commentating. Helpful. Not.

    Is now a good time to mention that he barracks for Melbourne?

    Thanks people for all your comments! I appreciate them. Often when the lack of women in sport is mentioned, the messenger is crucified. Your general support is humbling. xx

  8. Came upon this definition of women’s role in sports broadcasting on the US site Grantland today:

    “sideline reporter (n.) — A woman who’s expected to be as sophisticated about football in three minutes as the men in the booth are in three hours.”

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Anne a very good and fair point . I thought , Meg Lanning was ok re shield game .
    Belinda Clark a while back was better in my opinion and would be good on channel
    9 .

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