A Ramble on Women's Cricket
As 2015 kicks off, Nicola Browne has announced her retirement from international cricket. As a player she has always stood tall in more senses than one and I am disappointed not to be able to watch her swansong, which might have been the upcoming series against England on her home soil.
A recent tweet by Izzy Westbury stated clearly and succinctly that there was no reason why a woman should not be referred to as a batsman, chairman, actor etc..
In the short time allowed in a tweet making an argument for this cannot sensibly be attempted so let's have a go here...
Firstly there are some professions where it is almost de rigueur. The most obvious is acting where the top female names in Hollywood would be extremely annoyed if you referred to them as actresses. The reason this profession above all others has perhaps come down on this side of the argument is that they deal in words and the adulteration of language is something that some of them at least might frown upon. There is also the excellent reason that they are making, as forcefully but subtly as English allows, that they are the equal of the male in their profession.
This was brought home to me when, a number of years ago, I was asked to be the official photographer at a Lady Taverners' event. Rachel Heyhoe-Flint stood up at the end of this tournament to introduce the Lady (and, yes, the upper case is correct) who was to present the prizes. In the course of her introduction Rachel referred to her as the 'Chair' of an organisation, at which the Lady stepped in and interrupted her saying she was the Chairman! Rachel looked a little surprised but corrected herself and carried on.
When all the prize giving was over I approached the Lady and said it was refreshing to hear someone take this point of view. She smiled and gave me two explanations, one of which was obviously meant to be humorous but the other perfectly serious.
"Chairs are what people sit on, and in committee no one sits on me!" I had no doubt she was right. The smile disappeared and then she said simply, "You're the equal of a man and so you should say so. To do other is to demean yourself!".
When I was offered the job at the Sussex Women's Cricket Association I remembered her words and accepted on the condition I was the Chairman, as indeed my predecessor former England player Ruth Prideaux had been.
Since that day a woman with a bat in her hand has always been a batsman on this site and she will continue to be, even to the extent of altering that terrible word "batter" (which, of course goes round fish) in the ECB Media Release I include from time to time.
I have told this story in these columns before, but Izzy's tweet made me think that it obviously needed repeating.
I was reminded of it only a few weeks ago when re-watching one of last season's T20s when Isa Guha, doing the presentations, mentioned the 'Man of the Match'. Although I've not asked her I'd be surprised if Lauren Winfield felt like objecting at that moment even if that was technically incorrect!