As a sport-loving nation we are proud of the achievements of the Proteas, our men’s cricket team, and their position at or near the top of the world rankings. But how do we feel about our women cricketers, languishing for several years now in seventh spot on the world rankings, and struggling to show sign of deserved progress, while teams like Pakistan and the West Indies challenge the well-established top four – England, Australia, New Zealand and India?
Are we as aware as we should be of women’s cricket in this country and the challenges facing it? Why do we have only a few thousand registered women cricketers in South Africa, compared with countless thousands in countries like England, India and Australia? Does the problem lie with our women cricketers themselves? Do they simply lack the necessary experience, skills, fitness and athleticism to do better?
Or does the problem rest elsewhere in a structure faced with other competing priorities like promoting men’s cricket amongst previously-disadvantaged population groups, perhaps officials unable or unwilling to put the necessary resources, skills, thought and energy into women’s cricket?
Bearing in mind the spending power and importance of women as marketing targets in this country, why is it that potential sponsors are so slow in coming forward to sponsor women’s sport? Or does the heart of the problem rest with our media’s limited coverage of women’s sport?
Bearing all these questions and many others in mind, gsport invites all participants and fans to join a debate right here on women’s cricket in this country. In honour of CSA’s research investigating poor crowd attendances at the opening SA v England matches, please play a positive part in contributing to “fix” women’s cricket in South Africa.
Please let us have your positive and constructive comments on the first-ever “Women’s Cricket with Pride” – Here are a few thoughts to kick the debate off:
1) Is the current regionally-based provincial competition a worthy strength-v-strength tournament, or are there too many one-sided matches with little value in the development of player skills or the game in South Africa?
2) If brand names have been so successful in building the men’s franchise teams, wouldn’t a linked or unique brand name exercise for the women’s teams do the same for their spectator interest and media support, as a first step towards more publicity, interest and sponsor support?
3) Despite regularly fielding teams that look rock-solid on paper, the women Proteas have a poor recent international record. Is the problem related to a lack of experience and international exposure, strategy, selection, coaching, dedication or is there simply no BMT?
4) Women’s cricket in England has become the fastest-growing sport in recent years, with thousands of new players and their national team taking the number-1 world ranking. Key tie-ins with leading men’s sponsors brought in the funds for leading players to be paid to devote their time to promoting, developing, playing and coaching women’s cricket. In today’s climate, how can sponsors in South Africa be enticed into the women’s game?
5) One way to lessen the tough costs of international fixtures is to arrange player-exchange programmes. Would it be worth the investment to send 10 players off to participating countries for a year each, to participate in their foreign structures, with sufficient financial support to cover airfares and basic subsistence?
6) The recent World T20 in England featured the parallel women’s tournament semi-finalists and finalist play curtain-raisers to the men’s Twenty20 matches. With cameras already at the grounds to cover the “main” men’s match, how significant are the benefits in covering the women’s match?
All feedback submitted here will be provided anonymously to CSA for its information, and use in further building women’s cricket in South Africa. Thank you for participating!