The New Daily

Nine’s boys club is stifling cricket: Angela Pippos

Is there not one woman in this country capable of occupying a spot on the Channel Nine commentary team? Journalist and broadcaster Angela Pippos says the voices don’t reflect the viewers.

Blokesworld: Some of the Channel Nine cricket commentary team.

Blokesworld: Channel Nine's Mark Nicholas, Shane Warne and Mark Taylor. Photo: Getty

angela pippos.ANGELA PIPPOS
Broadcaster and journalist
Twitter: @angelapippos

It’s shameful a country that worships sport treats women who love cricket so shabbily.

Are you seriously telling me there isn’t one woman in this country capable of occupying a spot on the Channel Nine commentary team? One woman with the knowledge, silky smooth voice and wit to match Tubby, Heales, Slats and Warnie?  

Flick over to Channel Nine and you’d be forgiven for thinking women don’t give a flying full toss about cricket. The picture presented is one of rotating masculinity – 14 men in a game of musical chairs, all dressed by the same tailor. All wearing the same comfortable grin. If nothing else, it’s visually dull in the same way a commentary box made up exclusively of women would be. Mythical, I know, but you get my point.

Honestly I’d be less surprised if Don Bradman popped up in a blazer and tie next to Ian Chappell than a woman.

This marginalisation of women is not in keeping with Cricket Australia’s ‘strategic imperative’ of attracting more women and girls to the game over the next four years.

Venture outside this blokey world and the picture is vastly different. Women live and breathe cricket too. In parks, backyards, schools, living rooms and social media. Some even play it competitively. And some play it so well they’re the reigning World Cup champions.

So what would a woman bring to the commentary team? Exactly what Donna Symmonds, Anjum Chopra and Natalie Germanos have offered other cricket-loving countries – a breath of fresh air, a different perspective on all areas of the game. A different sensibility. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what a woman has to say about the “art” of sledging or the more serious issue of depression? Who knows she may even spark some interesting conversation or engender intelligent debate? Not to mention circumvent some of the old boy’s club jabbering. Poor old Dave Warner’s had a tough year.

Nine’s head of cricket, Brad McNamara, says ”It’s a hard one. You don’t want a token woman just for the sake of it. It needs to be someone that stands up on their own two feet and earns their place. I think people see through that straightaway, if someone is just there for the sake of it. Cricket is one of those sports where people soon work out if you know what you are talking about or not.”

Couldn’t agree more Brad. They tried the token approach thirty years ago with actress Kate Fitzpatrick in the commentary box for the 1983-84 Test series. The experiment failed spectacularly. Just as it would if I was given the starring role in the next George Clooney movie.

23 years later they tried sports presenter Stephanie Brantz on the boundary interviewing players during the 2006-07 Ashes series. That failed because the Australian players flatly refused to be interviewed by a woman. The boys club is a powerful beast on and off the field.

This marginalisation of women is not in keeping with Cricket Australia’s “strategic imperative” of attracting more women and girls to the game over the next four years.

It would help if they could see a reflection of themselves.

  • Puddler

    I reckon you are barking up the wrong stump Angela. We need to see more women’s cricket on TV more than we need female commentators describing Test or international men’s cricket. That’s where the growth in the game lies — following Elise Perry or Jodie Fields — not a Kate Fitzpatrick or Sarah Jones.

    • Elizabeth

      We need both, more women’ cricket telecast and more female commentators. There are many good young women to choose from – Meg Lanning included. Bet these blokes have had some ‘media training’ , give the same opportunities to the women.

  • John Shields

    There may be no women but their is better male commentary teams as seen on abc when they did the S Africa world cup.

  • Fidel

    Wait until Elysse Perry has finished playing and they’ll all be rushing to sign her up. Fr other reasons though, unfortunately.

  • Banjo777

    “Australian players flatly refused to be interviewed by a woman.” Where’s your proof of that? Also you can’t just bag out channel 9..ABC, BBC, SKy Sports, and Indian broadcasts are all the same when it comes to men’s cricket anyway.

  • Elizabeth

    I agree.
    There is a blandness to the Ch9 commentary team because of their blokey-ness. There are many women who enjoy watching cricket, some who play and you rightly note that the Australian Women’s team are the reigning World Cup Champions. They have thrived competitively in their cricket despite not having the Ch9 media scene fawning at their feet. These women make the same contribution and commitment to become elite athletes for far less remuneration. And they do it without the bad temper tantrums and ego centred behaviour.
    It is high time Ch9 looked at what more they could offer the viewer than the predictable format they have relied upon for years. Introducing female commentators would enliven the commentary, add insight and another dimension which all the audience would welcome.

    • Bob

      While we are at it why don’t we put some women in the Australian men’s team, that would be fairer. Then who knows maybe SBW or Mitch Johnson can play netball. Old Fashioned Bob.

      • Elizabeth

        Creating mixed gender teams is not an appropriate suggestion as I suspect you well know,

        It is a red herring.

        Many women watch cricket played by men. Many women support the boys who become the men who play cricket. Many women wash the clothes that cricketers get dirty. Many women pack the lunches that cricketers eat. Many women make the after noon teas that cricketers love. Many women watch many hours of junior cricket. Many women help fundraise to support junior and senior cricket clubs. Many women serve on club committees that allow the boys who play cricket become the men who play cricket that we all like to watch. Many women drive the junior boys to and from cricket training. Many women like cricket and know about cricket and want to know more about cricket. Many women understand, know and love the game of cricket. Many women would like to see women commentate on the game they love.

  • Bob Peterson

    It,s not too hard, men do men’s sport, and women do women,s sport, before too long we will need affirmative action for men.

    • Elizabeth

      Women play and watch cricket too. Looking for some alternative and fresh cricket insight. The way the world works is affirmation for men, in action.

  • Pavel

    You need to watch a few reruns of the disastrous Kate Fitzpatrick ‘experiment’ – epic fail…enough said!

  • travis

    Your kidding, as a man watching say net ball or womens golf with only female commentators the thought wouldn’t even enter my head that this isn’t right, we should have a man in the box.

  • Dave

    The Australian mens cricket team is a boys club too. And the women’s cricket team is a girls club. Maybe we should let women play in the mens team and men in the womens team, or maybe just have one team and pretend men and women are the same. At least we would be politically correct then.

  • RC_Melb

    Slow news day? Angela – find a woman ( or another man – women aren’t the only people who know how to inject “a breath of fresh air”) who knows as much, or more, about cricket as any member of the Ch 9 team and your claims might may have some legitimacy.
    Watching Test Cricket on TV is not really comparable to any other type of Sport TV viewing. More often than not, viewers watch it for long periods of time at a stretch (obviously, over a multi day period) and you have to understand what kind of person does that. Are they putting themselves through this kind of viewing experience because they want “a breath of fresh air” – not likely. They watch it because they love cricket – and I’d safely take a bet that the majority of viewers want to hear from the best commentators possible – the ones that understand the strange art/sport/science that is Test Cricket.
    I’m the father of three daughters – I, more than anybody, want them to have a life of equality and of fairness – to never be affected by the poor choices that many men make. I also want them to be fair and unbiased towards men – and not use phrases like “Boys Club” to describe situations that are actually acceptable when understood.
    At the end of the day, when I put myself through it and watch Test cricket, I want to hear from the very best cricket commentators. When I want “a breath of fresh air” – I’ll change the channel.

  • leftsceptic

    The same tired middle class diatribe. put this in 1st world problems. Angela you have a platform, young girls are being shot in Pakistan for trying to get an education. Millions of Men women and children die because of lack of access to clean water. A male from a lower socio economic position is more likely to die earlier , be imprisoned and have health issues than middle class females. If you are going to do social commentary do these

    You use your public platform to whinge , why wont the men give us a go at commentating. The AFL have shown that it just doesn’t work. Channel 7 and ten tried female commentators and both men and women did not respond well.
    As for why don’t they show more female sport, the simple answer is , why would you watch something that is not as good as what you already see. People don’t flock to see the mens gymnastics at the Olympics because it is second rate to the female gymnastics.
    More people watch the EPL than the A league. We prefer American basketball to Australian.
    It is not marginalizing people or diminishing their personal achievements, if a company gives consumers what they want.

  • Female Reader

    Channel 9 was the first network to include a woman commentator for men’s sport. Kate Fitzpatrick was included in the commentary team sometime last century but they didn’t let her call any play, the other commentators just chatted to her. A bold experiment – they had a go. Channel 10 included a female commentator for AFL, more recently, but when she was taken off AFL we lost the (very viewable) male commentator from the netball. 🙁
    Cricket has commentary that suits the game.

  • L

    From Stephanie Brantz via Wikipedia: “[The media] made a big deal out of the cricketers not speaking to me. What I meant at the time was that the players said if they were losing they’d probably want to talk to someone that had been there before, which meant the commentary team, which was all male. It wasn’t something that I thought was a slight or anything. It certainly wasn’t a miserable time. I chalked it up to experience.”

    Maybe this will change with someone of experience from the Women’s cricket team as you suggest. It would probably work better to have two women that can hold their own in the commentary box for a stint as well. They have a different kind of banter to the blokiness (what does Mark Nicholas bring to us) and they have to be able to work with the other blokes as well. As for the cricketers themselves, they should be enforced (pity they have to be) to do interviews with female respondents as the female audience pay their wages too.

  • sangstercole

    Personally I agree with Angela P , not only in commentary, we never give a full coverage of womens cricket etc,

  • Chris from Kalgoorlie

    It’s rubbish to suggest that we haven’t got women who could take meaningful roles in. TV cricket telecasts. The women who play a significant role in the Foxtel cricket presentations are proof of that. They leave the ego-driven drivel we are being fed by the boring Channel 9 commentators in their wake

  • Evo

    I don’t mind the commentators on either ABC, BBC, or 9. If there is a woman out there good enough and interesting enough then go nuts, put their name up.

    I do feel these articles will make the New Daily another trashy tabloid in no time though. It just feels like the type of story where you want people to argue about it.

  • PW Slack

    Is this really today’s top story?

    • Tony Tea

      Probably not. You are right. The media should only ever commentate on the top story. Every other story should be junked. As well as all the comments about all the other junked stories.

  • peterm_aus

    Why worry about token women when we have token player-speakers — a.k.a. ex male cricketers who are barely capable of speaking without a clique in every sentence. There are, admittedly, exceptions of ex-cricketers who can talk without group-speak. But we do have world-class women cricketers, and some of them are much more capable of talking sensibly and without cant and buzz words than many in the current bunch.

  • Ben

    You have got to be kidding me. Women don’t know anything about cricket! Much better to have legends of the game who know what they are talking about doing the commentary. It might not be “politically correct” to say this, but hey, it is the truth, and I could care less about political correctness.
    Let’s face it, most cricket fans are men, and all of the best and most recognised players in the world are men. What would a female bring to the table? Nothing a man couldn’t do (and much more!)
    I mean, how would the female fans of Sex and the City feel if Carrie Bradshaw was booted from the next movie by a new blokey male character – in the name of gender equality of course. I mean, the whole show is sexist! Where are the straight men represented on that show? Of course, that is a ridiculous argument, and so is Angela’s.
    When a woman has played for the Australian men’s cricket team, only then do they deserve a spot in the commentary box.

    • Elizabeth

      Gerard Whately has been neither a jockey or a horse yet comments on horse racing and has written a book about one of its stars.

  • Maree

    At last the Australian culture of gender discrimination and bias is being talked about. You only have to look at one of the daily newspapers to observe pages and pages of ‘male’ sports – with very rarely a single female sport or sports star ever mentioned. The same applies to reporting of sport on Television every day.
    If you were a visitor to this country you could likely get the impression that we have no females who are involved or excel in sport at all. This is wrong. .

    Gender bias is deeply ingrained in our culture and is generally accepted as normal. We idolize sports ‘men’. This results in large numbers of young sportsmen with large salaries and huge ego’s. The impact that this attitude has on young boys and girls is a major concern. Boys generally get the message that males are superior and the opposite applies to girls who get the message that they are inferior. It is a serious concern when this attitude becomes accepted as normal. Is it any wonder that there is such an increase in violence against women in our society today.

    This appalling inequality must be rectified for the welfare of society in general.

  • Bob White

    Get over it Angela, there are obviously some things that men do better than women.

  • Ian

    Quite happy to have any woman commentating who has played Ashes test cricket.

  • K

    //One woman with the knowledge, silky smooth voice and wit to match Tubby, Heales, Slats and Warnie? //

    Why should she have a “silky smooth voice” (whatever that is)? Or are you saying that Tubby, Heales, Slats and Warnie have silky smooth voices? 🙂

  • 1oldguy

    Less gimmickry, more info re tactics, stats, history, educational rather than ‘entertainment’, Hell Angela, how many stats do you want. The commentary team suggest a change of field placements, bowling different length like Lilley etc (History) and invariably have some educational content in the lunch break. They also show excerpts from the women’s game, give updates and interview some of their stars. My wife and I regularly watch all forms of Cricket and are happy with the way it is presented, like others if we want a breath of fresh air we can change the channell. Oh! and so can you.

  • Brian Leslie Blackwell

    Women fit in very smoothly into horse racing coverage.

    • Marcus Paul

      Really Brian? Not on the track – but rather ‘fashions on the field’ only.

  • Sifter

    There are two problems here: 1) is the sexism angle, and that’s already been touched on by others, but 2) Channel Nine’s issue with ‘big names’. Look at their cricket and rugby league commentary teams and they’ve obviously gone for on-field playing reputation over actual commentating ability. Darren Lockyer can barely speak, Brad Fittler just yells like a yobbo, and Andrew Johns is better than he used to be but he’s hardly a word-smith. There’s no way a woman would have the cricket reputation to crack this exclusive club of former stars, even a former top female cricketer eg. Lisa Sthalekar.

    The only way a woman would crack the commentary team is someone like Chloe Saltau – an actual cricket journalist, who could go behind the scenes, do interviews, actually get information (it would be a refreshing change for Nine’s commentators, who clearly do ZERO research). It would be a role like in American sports: the sideline reporter, reporting actual facts, because lets face it, that’s the only safe ground ie. if a woman provides her opinion on the game you’d be able to hear the chorus of ‘what would she know?’ all around the country.

  • Jane T.

    I agree it would be great to hear more female voices in all sports (except netball of course). Best advice at present is to turn off the TV sound and listen to ABC while watching.

    • Elizabeth

      Good idea …I enjoy the ABC cricket coverage on the radio. No women commentating there either but less gimmicks and no ads – bonus.

  • Oz Horse

    The one common factor among those commentators is that they have all been professional cricketers, and most of them have played a lot of international cricket. That gives them the credibility. So when there is a woman good enough to do that (and this doesn’t mean women’s international cricket which is at best District 3rd Grade standard), then they would be in a position to commentate on international cricket.
    Otherwise, like the rest of us who weren’t good enough to play professional international cricket, shutup, and leave it to the experts.

    • Elizabeth

      There are many sports commentators who have not excelled in sport, Dennis Commetti, Bruce Macavaney, Glenn Mitchell, Jim Maxwell, yet each is well respected for their knowledge of sport which has not come from personal experience at the elite level. As female commentators, Chloe Saltau, Emma Quale, Angela Pippos and more, have all learnt to understand the sports they write about about. These women and some of the elite female crickets and other female sports journalists could be given the opportunity and training to provide input into cricket commentary.
      This is not about political correctness but about getting some fresh viewpoint and interpretation for the audience. If Cricket Australia wish to grow their audience they could look at the commentary team and give it a shake up.
      I am not sure why Mark Nicholas has such a high place in Ch9 commentary team either – he is not even Australian. Nor did he ever play a test match for England, so in that regard he is not an elite level player.

  • Sunn

    Time these channels learned a lesson or two from the Golf Channel.

  • S. Hillas

    What about the pathetic effort on the women’s match on GEM on Sunday? Hussey, Healey & co ran the usual gamut of tired old jokes – ‘batsmen’, oh what do we call them now – and ‘third man’, what do you call that? And so on. As if they couldn’t have paid us sufficient respect to have that discussion off air pre match and sort it out beforehand. Then to add insult to injury, Hssey started reeling off his list of favourite chickie-babes, with Reese Witherspoon on the list but oh how sensational, he’d decided to put a women’s cricketer on the top of the list, because she could bowl to him all the day in the nets. This was followed by someone esle saying how great it’d be if “her father owned a pub”, from that old joke ‘i love a woman who is deaf, blind and whose father owns a pub. I think Hussey thought he was being somehow complimentary as if he just didn’t know what the hell else to say, but he just doesn’t get that he still puts all women cricketers (and all women, by extension) in the box of being appreciated for our looks & usefulness. Healey’s niece was playing but he still felt it appropriate to be derogatory. The entire performance was utterly patronising and quite disgraceful. They should have been taken off air.

    • Elizabeth

      I didn’t hear the commentary you mention, but I am not surprised to read your comments as it is common to hear of the inability of most of the male commentators to treat the women athletes with respect. Any channel providing coverage of women’s sport, GEM, Channel 9 etc.need to review their commentary panels. In the year 2014 it is embarrassing that men have so much difficulty analysing women’s sport. You are correct, if they lack a suitable vocabulary for the job then get some commentators that do. I note that Channel 9 are adding a female ‘host’ to their cricket team next season, but they really need a female commentator.
      Women watch cricket too and whether they are watching men play or women they deserve commentary that treats all athletes and their audience with respect instead of providing tiresome insulting anachronistic analysis from a Jurrassic era.

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