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How Is Batter Better Than Batsman Or Batswoman?
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has granted approval for the official use of the word “batter” to describe a “batsman” or “batswoman” in all forms of cricket and commentary or writing with effect from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup T20-2021. The ICC said the word ‘inch’ has actually been used since the last four years or so, mostly in commentary and also by some cricketers themselves, and this shift in usage has been noted by cricket’s apex body. The council further said that the word is “gender neutral” and makes cricket a more inclusive game. The vast majority of people involved in the world’s most popular game welcomed the change, with some calling it a “common sense change”. They further argue that no one describes “bowler” as “bowler” or “bowlswoman” or “field” as “fieldsman” or “fieldswoman”. However, the word “field” has been used since ancient times and sometimes even now. This writer is not aware if the word “fieldswoman” is also used in women’s cricket, which is not a recent phenomenon but has been played, albeit to a limited extent, since the 18th century in England and later in Australia.
In normal English usage, the word ‘batter’ means ‘to insult someone or something over and over again’, and the word is also used in cooking and beating a person, mostly in unfortunate cases of ‘wife battering’. In England, where the English language originated and became a world language, the term “offender” refers to someone who is “regularly beaten and seriously injured by a family member or partner”, who may be a child or a woman. Of course, batter can now be included to describe someone who keeps hitting the cricket ball; but the word can never get rid of its ‘negative’ implications, especially in the context of how we grow up and play cricket, which has always been and even now is described as a ‘gentleman’s game’. Can a ‘janitor’ be a gentleman or a gentleman?
Another argument made by the ICC and its supporters is to make the game of cricket more “inclusive”. Who says cricket is not inclusive? Since ages, people have listened to radio commentaries or watched live television broadcasts with complete families, including, more prominently, female members; in stadiums, cameras like to capture cheering female fans; and in childhood most of us always allowed girls to participate in the game. Besides, the ICC itself differentiates its competitions or world cups as “Men’s” or as “Women’s” and pray how they make it as inclusive as making teams with both men and women, like co-ed schools and colleges or the like. tennis mixed singles or doubles. We also mentioned above that women’s cricket also started more than two hundred years ago.
Then the argument that cricket will be “gender neutral”: our view of “men’s” and “women’s” cricket teams still applies here. How is it ‘gender bias’ to call male cricketers as ‘batsmen’ in men’s cricket and female cricketers as ‘batsmen’ in women’s cricket? Of course, some commentators may find it a “tongue thrashing” to utter the adjective “batswoman” over and over again in matches played by women. The basic gender difference in the game naturally comes with men gifted with greater physical strength and endurance and women burdened with their own problems that make men’s cricket far more popular than women’s and there is nothing the ICC or any other man or woman can do about it. The most physically demanding games are football, cricket and hockey, which is why men’s teams are more popular with fans in these games as opposed to games like tennis, table tennis, badminton and athletics or gymnastics. Since there are always feminist commitments in his writings, this writer does not find the term “Batwoman” in any context derogatory to women.
I’ve always been infuriated when someone describes Bradman or Garfield Sobers or Tony Greig or Allan Border or Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara as “one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket”; even now it infuriates me when some commentators or the players themselves describe Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Joe Root, Sanath Jayasurya, David Warner, Steve Smith and many others as ‘batsmen’. Well, in this liberal age we can choose our words too. Cricket fans will forever use either ‘batsman’ or ‘thumb’, despite ‘endorsement’. And on a personal note, I will always continue to use the term ‘batsman’ for men’s cricket and ‘batswomen’ for women’s cricket in my writings about the wonderful game of cricket.
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