Female cricketers 'on the verge of extinction' - report

Morna Nielsen of New Zealand celebrates taking the wicket of Lizelle Lee of South Africa. Photosport
Morna Nielsen of New Zealand celebrates taking the wicket of Lizelle Lee of South Africa. Photosport

Female cricketers are "a species on the verge of extinction" according to a damning report into the state of the women's game released today.

The independent report, which was commissioned by New Zealand Cricket last year in an effort to understand why women don't engage with game, paints a grim picture on the current state of the relationship between cricket and women.

A document, called the Women and Cricket Report overseen by former Auckland player, and strategic governance advisor, Sarah Beaman, was released today and has a wide range of recommendations for NZC to consider.

At a time when money is pouring into Australian women's cricket as its profile grows rapidly, the report argues NZC will not be able to effectively engage with women unless, and until, there are more women in governance and management roles at all levels of the sport.

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"What I discovered was women having virtually no voice in the governance or leadership of cricket, few women coaching or umpiring, and female players a species on the verge of extinction," Beaman wrote in her report.

"I found it ironic that the 1992 amalgamation of the New Zealand Women's Cricket Council with New Zealand Cricket was considered trailblazing: a model for the rest of the world. But the buzz quickly faded: women's cricket, which had been run by women for 58 years, was soon run mostly by men."

The percentage of women in national governance roles in cricket has dropped from 38 to 14 percent since the disestablishment of the New Zealand Women's Cricket Council.

Those interviewed for the report also pointed to a belief that cricket for females became relegated to an obligation and a costs centre with no apparent return on investment and that females are not recognised for what they can contribute.

The report also found only 10 per cent of those participating in cricket today are female, and 90 per cent of them are under the age of 12, with women's programmes treated as an afterthought.

The study began last November and solutions will be worked through in the next six months.

It included conducting hour-long interviews with 129 people inside and outside cricket; 503 women from outside cricket, 60 former internationals, men and women, 29 current internationals and 49 at under 21 level, and women players of India, Pacific Island, Maori and other ethnicities.

"We need to put up our hand here and accept responsibility," read a statement from NZC. "We have allowed women's cricket to be run by men for women; we have neglected the women's game on the basis of cost, and a perceived lack of interest.

"We have side-lined women's cricket both structurally and philosophically. We were wrong, and we now need to address the areas we've allowed to slip."

- NZ Herald

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