Look, if Cricket is going to abolish the use of the term “batsman” because it is offensive to women, or whatever, that is one thing. But replacing it with “batters”? C’mon:
The MCC has approved an amendment to the laws of cricket to use the gender-neutral term 'batter' instead of 'batsman'.
The changes will take immediate effect.#bbccricket
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) September 22, 2021
Baseball has “batters”, mainly because the Americans simplify everything. It’s not a cricketing term, and never has been. You’d have thought the chaps in suits could have come up with something a little more, well, cricket-y. Like “batpersons”, or “Gentlepeople at bat”.
In any case, “batsman” is hardly the most antiquated term regularly used in the game of cricket. For example, an over (6 balls bowled by one bowler) from which no runs are scored by the batting team has, forever, been referred to as a “maiden over”. Why? Because “Maiden” used to mean an “unmarried, or untouched” young woman. It refers to the over being akin to a virgin. Presumably the Cricket Authorities will address this in due course, perhaps renaming it something more appropriate.
Jokes aside, the issue here is not really that there is an issue with what the official name for somebody batting in a cricket match is. No – the issue is that in justifying the change, the cricket authorities declared that changing from “batsman” to “batter” would help “encourage more young women to play the game”. Which sounds remarkably infantilising.
Has there ever been a case of a young woman refusing to play the game of cricket because somebody might refer to her as a batsman? It certainly does not seem to have affected English cricket, whose woman’s team have been much more consistently successful over the past few decades than their male counterparts.
What the (by the way, almost entirely male) cricket authorities are saying, in effect, is that women are such highly strung creatures that many of them were put off the game by the widely used name of one of the playing positions. This does not appear to be based on any evidence whatsoever: For example, if you tune into a packed house to watch an Indian Premier League game, you will see thousands of women in attendance, usually cheering enthusiastically. India, of course, is not a renowned feminist society. If “batsman” was limiting female participation and interest, you might expect to see it there. You don’t.
Like many such changes, one might suspect this is much more about making those in charge of cricket feel more progressive and “with it” than it is about accomplishing anything meaningful whatever. We now live in a world where symbols and words are widely considered much more important than actual actions and outcomes. This is just the latest absurd example of it.
Most people just roll their eyes and get on with it. It won’t affect anybody’s life for good, or for ill. That’s both the argument for the change (why does it bother you so much? They ask) and the argument against it (what’s the point, exactly?). The problem, really, is the insult that such a change delivers to everybody who has gone before. Was Donald Bradman a sexist because he called himself a batsman? Was Jack Hobbs? Was cricket really sexist all this time?
The change is not just a change. It is also an implicit accusation, and charge, laid against people who can never defend themselves. It is an absurd charge, and an absurd change, made for no other reason than to appease a group of woke activists who never have, and never will, play cricket anyway.