If you have watched or listened to the cricket this summer, you may have noticed a distinct difference on the airwaves. Female hosts and commentators are coming out in force, which is such good news. All these female talent have earned the right to broadcast sport, because like many of their male colleagues, these hosts and broadcasters’ knowledge is elite. It is about time that they have found a platform in which they are allowed to shine.
Network Ten have always lead the pack with their Big Bash coverage in the early days featuring Mel McLaughlin. McLaughlin has since moved onto Channel Seven to continue her career, but her replacement Roz Kelly has an equally good knowledge and ability to cover cricket after doing various roles over the last few years. In the Ten commentary box Mel Jones has had an increased role this season with more of the ball by ball play. She has made a name for herself overseas too with the Indian Premier League. Sydney Sixers star Lisa Sthalekar also brings plenty of relevant conversation into viewers homes, balancing commentary with her playing commitments.
On the radio, ABC Grandstand has again added Alison Mitchell to the line-up for the Pakistan series. She brings a depth of knowledge, stories and opinion to the call. Her insight into cricket around the world and the stories she has acquired, have been must listen to radio this series. She has adopted Port Adelaide as her AFL team of choice (we will not hold that against her) and her banter with the rest of the ABC Grandstand box has been a feature of the summer. Hopefully a return in next years Ashes series is already being planned.
At Triple M, Neroli Meadows who already has her passion shine through on Fox Sports has continued to show her dedication to the sport on the airwaves, while Isa Guha has added her voice to the ever growing and popular Triple M call.
On the other hand, it is disappointing to see Channel Nine still lagging behind the pack with no female as a part of their coverage this season. It is a real boys club at Nine with their broadcast feeling as tired and repetitive as ever. They cut Michael Hussey and Brett Lee in favour of the older brigade which was an odd call. The addition of Ian Smith and Waqar Younis this summer has at least allowed for a bit of change, but Nine should look at its competitors for some fresh ideas. It would currently be a disaster for Nine to acquire the broadcast rights to the Big Bash and install their current crop of commentators in there. A huge part of the reason that the Big Bash has been so successful as a television product can be attributed to the commentary team Ten has elected.
Cricket has followed other sports in changing the way games are being covered. Networks are finally catching on that sports broadcasting is more than just men in suits. Fox Sports’ A-League coverage features well-travelled Tara Rushton and the NBL’s coverage this season has seen Abbey Gelmi, Neroli Meadows and Renae Ingles amongst others take to the microphone. In additon, Fox Sports have signed Kelli Underwood for the upcoming AFL Women’s competition and have Sarah Jones front and centre of their AFL coverage.
This change has only just begun and the good news is that by next summer we will not notice the female voices as being different in the cricket commentary box. It will just be a normal occurrence. And that can only be good for cricket.