Ahh, the Australian summer. The neighbour’s barbecue fires up, cicadas buzzing in the morning, crickets burring in the evening, sprinklers chip-chip-chipping away, the fecund smell of freshly-mown grass, and the tonk of leather on willow, the playful banter of the Channel Nine cricket commentary team. They hardly need introducing, for as long as I can remember, they have been the collective voice of summer.
But some aren’t happy with this line up. Too many penes. It’s not Shane Warne’s one-eyed jingoism and constant bitching about players not being ‘aggressive’ enough; neither is it Mark Nicholas’ lack of international cricketing credentials; it’s not even the tsunami of junk food and sports betting advertisements we are mercilessly subjected to between and even during overs. No, the unhappiness stems from the fact that Ch9 obdurately refused to include a token transgender woman of colour with a disability on the commentary team this year.
Boom, there it is, the ‘t’ word.
Apparently their failure to alter the winning formula despite a tsunami of social-media bullying means they are the last bastion of patriarchal oppression. But methinks all this high-pitched shrieking was not properly thought out. Had the social-media warriors succeeded in shaming Ch9 into displacing one or more of their all-male line-up, then the vacancy would have been filled by … ?
“There are a host of highly-qualified, popular women who commentate and have successfully navigated both women’s and men’s cricket. They include, but are not limited to, Mel Jones, Lisa Sthalekar, Alison Mitchell, Charlotte Edwards, Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent and Isa Guha. All of these women bring extensive experience in playing and analysing the game, while they are also culturally and ethnically diverse.“
Chosen at random, because they are all randoms to me, Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent was England’s first black female cricketer, apparently. She is in the photo above, but I’m not sure which. With 22 one-day internationals under her belt, she ended her career with a batting average of 23.56 and a bowling average of 45. Smirk all you like, but Ebony-Jewel’s place in the annals of cricketing history is guaranteed. Not because of her (in)ability with bat and ball, but by virtue of gender and colour. Now, let’s pretend (because we have to) that this earns Ebony-Jewel a place on the Ch9 commentary team. Is this an example of positive discrimination making the world a better place, or rank tokenism? You choose.
I actually do not give a damn. We already have female sportscasters. The ‘first woman to do X’ records are getting scarcer, have you noticed? but don’t fret, there are always he subcategories, which is great, because the first morbidly-obese Asian hermaphrodite who can yodel the Star Spangled Banner from a handstand position will slot in nicely alongside the first non-Asian hermaphrodite to do the same. And so on and so forth; but just remember, when we’re all special, none of us will be.
So if y’all yearn for a female vs male voice, try Alison Mitchell former ABC Grandstand commentator who is calling the BT Sport Ashes coverage, Cricket-nerd, she proves you don’t have to be a player to be an excellent commentator. And lucky we are that this is cricket and not some other sport, because we don’t have to see the commentators’ faces. Lucky, because otherwise it might end up in one of those farcical ‘Fight patriarchy and win!’ scenarios where all your energetic social-media vigilantism succeeds in achieving is to create more jobs on television for the hot, thin bitches you hated in highschool.
Careful ladies. One step forward, two steps back.