Cricket is a game that may not be played across boundaries and not as popular as football or Tennis. Yet, there are certain countries that consider it more than a game.
To countries like India and Pakistan- it’s a recurring feature of life. This is why when a legend of the sport had something to say recently about cricket’s great element; an unmistakably important one- women’s cricket- people opined and shared views from around the world.
Former England opener and one of the finest batsmen the country has ever produced, Sir Geoffrey Boycott has landed in a fresh controversy after stating female cricketers cannot comment on the men’s cricket.
Where’s this even coming from, at first thoughts?
Surely, any rank outsider who’s got nothing to do with the game would want to comment and suggest a view on a statement that seems worthy of ‘having a go.’
But here lies a question.
Is it that what Sir Boycott said was merely for stoking an argument?
The Yorkshireman, who had a very successful career for England is a man whose views on the game hold some weight for he’s commanded a career that boasts of impressive numbers.
On first thoughts, a Test average of 47 with 108 games shows us no lame batsman, but an achiever who emerged famous for the way he tackled the fearsome Windies attack that included Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, and Joel Garner during his playing days.
So usually when the greats of the game say something, you listen. Though it’s not necessary that one has to take everything happily and accept a comment without giving one’s own thought to it.
Here’s what the veteran broadcaster has recently been up to.
He ended his stint with BBC after his contract was not renewed by the organization.
And it is this very move, dramatic to some, normal for others, wherein Sir Boycott was speaking to The Telegraph, that 79-year-old stirred some controversy.
“You have to know the pressure, emotions, and technique required. As good as the Women are at their game, it bears no resemblance to the power and pace of men’s cricket. There is room for women commentating, fronting as presenters, and reporting. Many are excellent at it such as Gabby Logan, Alison Mitchell, and Clare Balding. But as an expert summarizer in men’s cricket, you need to be out in the middle”.
These comments didn’t go well with the former Australian Women’s captain, Lisa Sthalekar.
The 40-year-old who has an Indian origin dismissed the views of the legendary batsman. When Lisa was asked about Boycott’s views, she said to The Sydney Morning Herald that, “The thought process and how people play the game is still exactly the same whether you play men’s cricket or women’s cricket”
She further added, “It’s got nothing to do with the power. The same argument for him is that we shouldn’t have any males commentating on our game because they have never played against females. But that is not what we(cricket) are about. Cricket is a sport literally for all shapes and sizes, and for everyone, regardless of gender.
Everyone loves the game, so why can’t everyone share opinions on broadcasts that are from a diverse background, whether that be different countries, different genders, because that is what is happening in the living room when we are all watching or listening to the radio.”
Now here’s something for your observation.
A similar kind of incident took place last year in November in the historic day-night test match between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens when Sanjay Manjrekar was disrespectful to Harsha Bhogle with respect to the difference of opinions.
That’s why it occurs, apart from the angle of putting one’s point with grace, there’s also a whole element of subjectivity to a particular statement or quite.
Won’t opinions differ from person to person?
But the way one projects his/her thoughts is something that can stir up several controversies, which if done deliberately to incite- which may not have been the case here- must be avoided.
Though you cannot escape what you ough to do especially when taking a shot as Sir Boycott did.
Shouldn’t saying a point that you know may draw reactions be put with more refinement?
If so, should Sir Boycott have been more refined in his honest take?
While one thinks there is no judgment that can be passed from Boycott’s opinion- he’s not known to have ‘waged wars’ against the idea of female participation in the sport- but surely his comment wasn’t in good taste at first sight.
This, therefore, leaves us guessing.
Cricket is a unifier. A sport that’s constantly being played and opined on. That’s not going to change.
In an age where individual expression- think blogging, podcasts, greater access to the commentary box, microblogging platforms like Twitter- is the order of the day, there will always be contrasting opinions and everyone has the right to speak up about this beautiful game of cricket.
More of that when you talk to professionals and invite greats to the paddock and commentary box.
They are there to opine.
But at the same time, shouldn’t one be asking, what greater good is being achieved in having statements where you end up pitting men versus women or vice-versa?
Moreover, if a tall great of the expresses an opinion, shouldn’t he be doing so with more refinement in a way that it doesn’t hurt the prestige of the other gender?
In the end, isn’t it about the right mindset and the way one weave their thoughts?
Interestingly, if you didn’t note- you can choose to ignore Sir Geoff Boycott’s stance. At the end of the day, it’s his view, not men’s cricket’s, as a whole- right?
Very well expressed. It makes us realise that everyone has the right to comment on the game with the right knowledge.
Pranay- thank you very much for your kind thoughts and encouragement, what else would a hungry new writer want?