Bring in the ropes
What a glorious summer it has been for women’s cricket. Finally the national exposure and free to air coverage that one of Australia’s favourite sports being played at an elite level deserves, but has been denied, just because the players are XX and not XY. The amazing ratings of last year’s women’s AFL game between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs out rated Adelaide’s thrashing of the Bombers the day before. This shows the potential for women’s sport.
However, I feel like something is really wrong in women’s T20 cricket. And no, it isn’t the lack of 6’s. Sure, in the men’s game, the shortest form of the game is sold as a big slogging, high octane, entertainment bonanza, complete with fireworks and pop music. I don’t think anything is lacking, I think it’s something we’re getting too much of. During a conversation with Geoff Lemon during our call of the Stars and Renegades match on White Line Wireless, we noted that it wasn’t the lack of big boundaries that was taking the excitement out of the game, but the proliferation of dot balls. Now I’m a big fan of the dot ball in the men’s game and, contrary to popular belief, it’s because of this that I don’t think T20 is a batsman’s game. Bowling a dot, especially at the death, is quickly becoming recognised as a skill that perhaps even surpasses that of the big boundary hitter. No longer are we looking at T20 through Test Match eyes and seeing the dot ball as just going through the motions. They are pivotal parts of the match. If a batsman can make reasonable contact with reasonable guidance, there’s almost always a run in it. However, in the women’s game there’s too many dot balls that are coming about not because of the skill of the bowlers, or because of a mistake of the batsman. Too often a decent ball brings a decent shot in return, only to be collected in the field without the possibility of a run being scored. All because for some reason the women are playing with the boundaries of an under 12’s match.
Having the boundaries in so close does bring about more boundaries. Although in my estimation, about 75% of the 4’s are still going to be 4’s. And I’ll admit there will be few 6’s, but a 6 isn’t the big thrill unless it’s up for a crowd catch. Moving the boundaries doesn’t change that. Without the crowd catch the excitement factor difference of the ump slicing horizontally or waving his hands in the air like he just doesn’t care, is negligible.
So sure, a few more boundary runs are scored by having the ropes in, but I estimate many more are lost by forcing the fielders in so close, not to mention the increase in the “boring” dot ball; that were neither bowler skill or batter mistake.
So on top of reinforcing negative stereotypes of women’s sport being the poor cousin of men’s sport, it’s actually making the game less interesting. It’s time to even up the playing field.