Cricket: President Debbie Hockley makes history

By David Leggat

Outgoing president Steven Boock and Debbie Hockley. Photo / photosport.nz
Outgoing president Steven Boock and Debbie Hockley. Photo / photosport.nz

Here's the dilemma for Debbie Hockley, New Zealand Cricket's first woman president.

Given that status, might she face suggestions that too much of her focus will be on the women's game, which - having been largely ignored by NZC for the past two decades - is about to undergo a significant boost in support and promotion from the national body? Hockley, appointed at this week's NZC annual meeting, is aware of that, but has the answer to it.

"I am conscious of it," she said. "I did say at the AGM that I can't help but be biased towards women's cricket, having played it for 25 years. But the whole thing about NZC projects is it's a game for all New Zealanders, and that includes males, females, and all ethnicities. While I'm keen on the whole pathway for females being developed, I am there for all cricketers and supporters."

Cantabrian Hockley was New Zealand's first outstanding woman player. Between 1978-79 and 2000-01, she played 118 ODIs, scoring 4064 runs - the first woman to reach 4000 - averaging 41.89, with four centuries and 34 fifties.

In 19 tests, she averaged 52.04, with four centuries.

Hockley, 54, is one of six women in the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame, and with Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe one of only three New Zealanders.

She applauds NZC's honesty last week in owning up to having dropped the ball on the women's game, through a report written by Sarah Beaman into the state of play.

"To me, that's quite rare that an organisation fronts us and says 'this is how it is' and try to rectify it," she said. "This really is a case where the stats don't lie, and sometimes when you get the numbers, that gives people a jolt, [such as] when you see 90 per cent of females playing cricket in New Zealand are under 12."

At the AGM, NZC's quota of women on the board doubled, with former one-day international Ingrid Cronin-Knight joining Liz Dawson.

"There's a real push to get more women in governance, which I think has been needed for a long time."

Hockley's term is for three years. She has no voting rights but will attend board meetings and, being a forthright thinker, expect her to clear her throat when she has a point.

She is understood to be the first woman president from a test-playing nation and she's delighted in a broad sense, and in personal terms chuffed.

"It's a bit surreal at the moment. It is kind of ground breaking and I think good on New Zealand Cricket."

Hockley intends attending the opening Chappell Hadlee ODI in Sydney next month to meet Cricket Australia officials but she's keen to get out and about to the less glamorous parts of the game, too.

"I'm looking forward to going to some of the district associations, because it's important for those people to know they are appreciated."

- NZ Herald

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