OPINION: Mixed Cricket – It’s Really Not Worth A Try

The Sydney Morning Herald has published an editorial today which suggests that the next step for women’s sport in Australia is to go fully mixed. Non-contact sports like cricket, the piece argues, should lead the way here. It might not work, but if it did, it could “break down the entrenched attitudes”, not just in sport but in other fields too. “It’s worth a try,” the author concludes.

Actually, no, it isn’t. Mixed cricket would be a disaster for the women’s game.

Of course there are a few women who could be successful playing in a mixed international side (Sarah Taylor is the obvious candidate who springs to mind). But, overall, there’d inevitably be less women playing international cricket. Think about it logically. Even if rules dictated that there had to be a mixed gender split in the Australian cricket team – say 6 men and 5 women, or vice versa – that would still mean that only about 50% of the women currently representing their country would get to keep doing so. How is that a good thing?

Secondly it would negatively affect the grassroots of the game, and narrow the available talent pool – at a time when many women’s sides are already struggling for survival. Why is it that so many clubs – including those in Australia which offer the Milo programme for 7-12 year olds – are beginning to run girls-only training sessions? Because they’ve realised that not all girls want to play mixed cricket. Girls develop at different rates, are often less confident, and have sometimes (sadly) had less grounding in the game from an early age. They feel happier playing surrounded by other girls. If we impose mixed cricket on them, then many of these girls will be lost to the game for good.

And lastly, and most importantly, to suggest that for women’s cricket to be taken seriously it needs to merge with the men’s game is actually frankly rather insulting. Our sport is worthy of respect in its own right. It isn’t inferior, it is different, and we don’t want it to be subsumed into male-dominated structures. We want players like Sarah Taylor to be granted media attention and prestige for their world-class performances within the women’s game, not for there to be endless speculation about how well they might perform in the men’s game. One of the great things about the World Cup last summer was that this really did seem to be happening: women’s cricket really did seem to be becoming respected on its own terms. To suggest that the next logical move is to make cricket gender-mixed totally undermines that.

Mixed cricket isn’t something to “try out”, something to be taken lightly and that we can abandon without a second thought if it doesn’t work out. Of course it would shake things up. But would it really be a progressive move? I don’t think so.


5 thoughts on “OPINION: Mixed Cricket – It’s Really Not Worth A Try

  1. I agree, mixed cricket is not worth a try because it’s obvious what the outcome would be – a massive reduction in female participation in cricket. That and the feeling of a forced, artificial game with overly stereotyped roles. Still, the pointless idea just won’t die. I’m not sure if the people suggesting this know that and it’s part of their secret push-back plan, or if it’s just ignorance, but it does seem to disproportionately emanate from the crowd that take their definition of equality far too literally and far, well, too far.


  2. Let’s face it cricket as we know it will not survive. It is a time consuming social activity in a fast-moving society that demands short and snappy T20 entertainment and in a decade or so our game will have to adapt or be a minority one. Also there are people out there who make a living from spinning theories to unsolvable problems, in the media and success is getting them ‘trending’.

    As far as mixed cricket goes we already have it. Junior teams can be male, female or mixed and it is a credit to our game that we encourage full participation. At an adult level I have seen quite a few female players choose to spend Saturdays playing making a men’s side a mixed side and then playing Sundays for a women’s team or for girls a county age group team.

    But I fear we’re facing a losing battle to rebuild female club cricket and make it ‘fit for purpose’ for aspiring women and teenage girls playing club cricket. I would like to hear other views on this.

    Outside of the Club environment we still have development structure of Area, CAG, Senior County teams and ECB age groups. But the drop out rate is a concern as girls choose their favoured team sport (netball, hockey, rugby or football) or to leave the sporting arena completely.

    At this rate the development of professional female cricketers will be in the hands of franchise academy’s and to a limited extent county academy’s if funding & the volunteer workforce survive to fill the gap. A lack of regular and quality club cricket at grassroots is a serious concern and mixed cricket is not an ideal solution but for some the only one.


  3. At grass roots level, sure – whatever works. But, um we’re talking about the elite levels of the game here.


    • I’m not sure that in some cases the women’s county and 1XI league are pushing our Elite for 40 overs plus cricket. KSL is only a window for T20 development.


  4. It wouldn’t happen at elite level. There’s no demand for it from spectators of either gender nor players of either gender. Lower down the levels, there is a real case for it. League cricket in England should incorporate it wherever possible in my view. Too many clubs in the leagues I played in have hit the skids. Clubs twenty years ago that had four male teams on a Saturday and two Sunday friendly sides are down to (just about) two sides on Saturday and close to nothing on a Sunday.

    Having played against female sides at a good level, I loved it. Gender mattered not one jot.

    One a side note, attendance at women’s sport is up and is predicted to keep on rising:


    Are there any stats on income at these events?


Comments are closed.