Channel Nine’s male-dominated cricket team will increase its female presence next summer, with the station bringing sports presenter Yvonne Sampson into the coverage.
And, while Sampson will be hosting, rather than providing special comments during play, Nine’s head of sport, Steve Crawley, said the cricket commentary team – long a male bastion – would definitely have a woman providing ball-by-ball commentary in due course.
Crawley said Sampson, who has been involved in the station’s rugby league coverage, would be brought into the cricket broadcasts for the 2014-15 summer as the station sought to improve its female representation. He said Sampson ”knew her cricket” and was expected to be used in a hosting/presenting role.
Nine has been in talks with Cricket Australia about how it can bring women into the coverage of men’s international cricket, with CA believing that the game will benefit enormously from more women in commentary roles – including ball-by-ball – given the high level of interest in cricket by women and the expertise available through Australia’s elite female cricketers.
Channel Ten has promoted Mel McLaughlin to a prominent hosting role in its coverage of the Big Bash League, in what has been seen as a success. CA believes the growth in female audiences and participation are paramount, and is aiming for a 50-50 audience split in viewership.
Nine used presenter Stephanie Brantz in its coverage of the Ashes in 2006-07 when she appeared on The Cricket Show.
But play-by-play calling remains something of a glass ceiling for women in cricket, a fact of which CA and Nine are acutely aware.
In the 1980s, Nine was criticised for using actress Kate Fitzpatrick, who had no cricket background, in a commentary role; today, the prevailing view – from Nine and CA – is that prospective female commentators should have the credibility of an expert. ”This will happen, it’s just a question of when,” Crawley said of Nine’s eventual introduction of a woman in a ball-by-ball commentary role.
Crawley said Nine had used Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar – both former international players for Australia – in its coverage of the Twenty20 games for women on its digital channel GEM.
Nine and Ten have been interested in the highly marketable dual sports (cricket and soccer) star Ellyse Perry, but Perry is under contract to Foxtel.
CA’s research shows that the female share of the Twenty20 and Big Bash League audience was higher than in the traditional forms of the game, even though the overall numbers are lower than the massive ratings for the Ashes.
Cricket is but one of a number of sports that have been forced to confront the issue of the relative lack of female commentators, given the huge female participation rates and/or audiences.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.