explainer

ALYSSA HEALY: 'Women's cricket on TV was a figment of my imagination. Now everyone's watching.'

Cricket has always been a constant in my life – as a child growing up in a family full of male cricketers - to now, as a member of the Australian women's cricket team.   

Yet interestingly enough, while I chose to play cricket with the boys, I really could have gone in a different direction. I played many other sports as a kid – hockey and netball, to name a couple – and many with a significantly higher female-to-male ratio. 

It didn't strike me at the time, but I often think now that perhaps there was an innate urge to crack the cricket boys' club, even though I just enjoyed playing cricket. 

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Back then, the cricketing landscape couldn't be more different to what it is today. Not only has there been astounding progress towards an even playing field, but people's respect for our game has grown. 

Childhood for me was watching Ricky Ponting hook his way to the boundary line and Matty Hayden lofting the ball into the stands. 

Women's cricket on TV was just a figment of my imagination back then.

It was still played, though – ask the greats that came before us. Belinda Clark, Mel Jones, Lisa Sthalekar. All heavyweights of women's cricket, but while dominating world cricket, they were tasked to juggle full-time work with their playing responsibilities. 

They were wearing uniforms, and equipment fitted for men with little to no recognition. 

But now? We have sold-out crowds for women's cricket matches (did you see the 85,000 people turn up to the MCG to watch us play in the T20 World Cup Final?), and the existence of a significant domestic T20 series for female cricketers – the Weber WBBL – that is considered the world's best and attracts not only Australia's best cricketers, but those from abroad too. 

And better yet – you can watch every single game, whether it's the WBBL or the Australian women's cricket team, live and in prime-time, anytime and anywhere. 

We've reached a time when we have a voice, and it's heard. 

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When we speak, we see change, growth, and development that I hope the next generation of female athletes can reap the rewards. 

The adage "you can't be what you can't see" has never been more accurate, and TV audience numbers for this season's WBBL series speak for themselves. Already up by 42 per cent on last year, and to-date, a cumulative 2.27 million viewers. 

Last year, Kayo Sports became the first to stream every match of the WBBL season live and this year, all WBBL games are being televised for the first time ever on Foxtel. In addition, the coverage is hosted by the same leading personalities and commentators that host the men’s game and Fox Cricket now has its own magazine show, The Blast, dedicated solely to women’s cricket. 

Thanks to ground-breaking broadcast deals like this, more girls can see that carving a career as a professional female cricketer is possible and sustainable.  

And not only that – both boys and girls are buying our shirts, asking us for our signature and hoping to become the next Ellyse Perry or Meg Lanning.  

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We're called batters instead of batsmen. We have a kit specifically designed for us. These small wins fuel the progress and help parents of young girls see cricket as a sport for their daughters to play.  

There are now more than 75,000 girls playing cricket around Australia, and while that number might seem small, it's thousands more than when I took to the pitch as a young girl.  

We've made ground, and if there's anything I'm most proud of during my time playing professional cricket, it's my contribution to speaking up and changing the norm to help inspire the next generation. 

We're not there yet. But will we ever be? Absolutely. 

More young girls playing in junior competitions, consistent crowds that rival an AFL or NRL Finals game, a full-time professional women's domestic league, and a fully fledged women's IPL are all within reach. These will be the change-makers that help take our game to the next level. 

Visibility is everything, and we now have a loud and bright platform. As the adage goes, "you can't be what you can't see", but you sure as hell can see me now.

Watch every game of the WBBL, or catch up for free with minis on Kayo Freebies, plus every Australian women’s home international live and on-demand on Kayo.

Fixtures

  • Sunday 21 November at 9:45AM Local Time (Adelaide) – Sydney Sixers vs Perth Scorchers

Semi-Finals:

  • Wednesday 24 November: TBC vs TBC

  • Thursday 25 November: TBC vs TBC

Final:

  • Saturday 27 November: TBC vs TBC

Feature Image: Getty / Mamamia.

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