The comment by Greg Barclay, the independent chair of the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding the bleak future of women’s Test cricket has touched a raw nerve with some of the greats of the game calling for the control of women’s game being handed back to a separate committee governed that cares about the game.
With ICC handling things, the women’s Test cricket is going through a lean period with the sport’s world governing body concentrating more on the shorter formats.
Barclay told the BBC he couldn’t see Test cricket being “part of the women’s landscape moving forward”, and in the same breath spoke about the legacy of men’s Tests.
This has caused consternation among women cricketers, leading to calls from former cricketing greats for the ICC to hand back control of the women’s game to those who are passionate about its history, according to a news report in Australia.
Former Australia Test captain Raelee Thompson said the men in charge of the game had no idea about the history of the women’s game.
“To think that Mr. Barclay just flatly refused to even consider women’s tests and that he didn’t even acknowledge there was any history I mean, we introduced overarm bowling you have to know the backstory to do it justice and I’m afraid most of the men in charge don’t have any idea,” Thompson was quoted as saying the ABC.
“I see a need for a separate women’s council to look after women’s cricket I think we’d still have to be part of the ICC, but that would be a much better fit because the women understand the needs of the female players and actually value the history of what our forebears have done.”
Women’s cricket started in 1934/35 when England visited Australia for the first Women’s Ashes Series followed by a one-off Test against New Zealand.
With the game under the governance of individual committees or the International Women’s Cricket Council, the game grew in England, Australia, New Zealand and West Indies.
But in the 17 years following the merger of the international men’s and women’s sides of the game, women’s tests have become a rarer occurrence, the report said.
“New Zealand hasn’t played a single Test since the merge, while Australia and England have played just 11 Tests between them, keeping the count ticking over with their largely biennial Ashes contest,” the report said.
In some countries, the merger between men’s and women’s bodies was as not as smooth as it should have been.
Former White Ferns captain, coach and manager Trish McKelvey recalled the way New Zealand’s Women’s Cricket Council was reluctant to go through with it, realising it was likely to be a trade-off for better resources but less power.
“It was in no way a unanimous decision, the women weren’t happy about it,” McKelvey told the ABC. “Obviously the girls are much better off with the funding they’ve got now, but one of the strongest recommendations from the women was that NZC continue to grow and develop the women’s game I can’t hand on heart say that has happened.”
Other passionate advocates have called for women to be given back control in the wake of Barclay’s comments, the report claimed.
“Given the remarkable Women’s ashes test match, we witnessed earlier this year I’m disappointed the @ICC are not looking build test cricket up. The top 4 nations in the women’s championship should play the multi-format series. In 12 yrs we celebrate 100 yrs of Women’s test cricket!, tweeted another former Australia captain Alex Blackwell.
Raf Nicholson, women’s cricket historian, supported the need for giving the reins back to the women.
“Lots of surprise at this, but this has been the ICC’s position since they took over wom’n’s cricket in 200”. They see men’s Test cricket as “representing the history,” while ignoring & dismissing its key role in the history of women’s cricket.
“This is why we need to devolve the running of women’s cricket away from the ICC. We need people to be in ch’rge who have a vision for the women’s game which is informed by its history and is dedicated to its future. The ICC see it as secondary to men’s cricket,” she said in a series of tweets.
With the calls for treating women’s cricket in a better way getting stronger, it has to be seen how the ICC reacts to these demands.