Thursday 25 June 2009

Empower women, not Npower Girls

The brilliance of women’s cricket in England has brought them success and respect, so why does Npower insist on reducing women to sexed-up props?

England now hold the World Cup, the Twenty20 World Cup and The Ashes. They are the best women’s sports team on the planet, and in Clare Taylor, have the finest batswoman in the world.

Even the mainstream sports pages brim with praise: Michael Atherton writing, “Women's cricket in England is an outstanding success story. It shows what can be achieved when a governing body matches rhetoric with funding and when a bunch of talented individuals place the pursuit of excellence at the heart of everything they do.”

So why can’t we extend this respect from the field to the presentation ceremonies?

There can be few more unedifying spectacles than, just hours after the women’s victory, the presentation ceremony of the men's world cup. Giles Clarke and ICC president Haroon Lorgat, introduced by name and applauded, joined a stage where two anonymous women were paraded as Npower’s furniture. While the players dutiful shook hands with administrators, the ‘Npower Girls’ stood by unacknowledged and non-existent.

Standards and attitudes to women in cricket have progressed, it is high time the sponsors caught up.

Thursday 11 June 2009

England Flop

South Africa have been accused of being a robotic and mechanical team. Today was no exception as they efficiently swatted an ineffective England team aside, and marched on as tournament favourites.

The danger of Twenty20 cricket is that, like its 50-over cousin, the result can be decided early on, leaving the rest to unfold as a formality. Once Pietersen had joined the openers back in the dugout, at 25-3 off 5 overs the game was up.

South Africa have better tools than England for the Twenty20 contest, but England's tactics have to be questioned.

Winning the toss and choosing to bat places pressure to set a total. Too often England batsmen can't cope with this. Denied a quick start it was visible that Shah and Collingwood were unable to asses a good total. They were indecisive over whether to attack or regroup and in the end did neither. While Foster is an excellent keeper, Prior at six would bring much needed runs and, crucially, would help unclutter the minds of England's top order. South Africa's tight bowling brought poor shot-selection as England struggled to find any momentum.

Defending 111 was always going to be difficult, but in offering 46 singles, England did themselves no favours. Kallis led the gentle stroll to victory, leaving England with a lot of work to do to progress.