Sun | Dec 11, 2016

No space for Williams in boys’ game

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Foster's Fairplay this week checks for quality content in recent opinions from two prominent sporting minds. The contestants are Dorothy Hobson, a former West Indies female cricketer, and a sports talk show host, Orville Higgins.

Hitherto, the Melbourne Cricket Club executive and manager of a plethora of national teams would win 'hands down' over the brash, dreadlocked radio personality. But not today. The words of Higgins have finally found favour with this fellow journalist.

The saga of Rashada Williams, and whether she should play cricket with the boys or not, has brought out the best in Higgins. Forgive his prior less-than-acceptable utterances.

"How can I be expected to know something that happened several years ago?" being just one.

Williams' unfortunate story is rehearsed. She is blessed with some rich cricketing talent, similar to her Eltham High predecessor, the now world-recognised Stafanie Taylor. With an unassuming air and captivating elegance in movement, she is seen on television as she glides, bat in hand, across the field of play, surrounded by players of the so-called stronger gender.

Fact is that she is being denied access to compete at the Under-19 schoolboy level, traditionally, and in keeping with its title, an arena occupied solely by boys.

Stafanie made it and created a base for the awesome talent that was to blossom for Jamaica, the region and the world. Her performances catapulted her to number-one world-ranking status among women batters later in her career.

Williams, seeking to continue the precedence, is up against a wall of "too dangerous", "she might get hit by a fast bowler", fierce and furious, seeking redress and replacement of face after a straight drive overhead for six.

Given the unfortunate history of the Australian Test player, Philip Hughes, who paid the ultimate price, this thought is legitimate and made moreso by its currency, although few will ever forget.

Hobson's choice was "let her play with the boys and improve".

Higgins is against the thought. Foster's Fairplay relents and agrees with The Mannings School man, albeit with extreme caution, as who knows what Higgins, seen now everywhere, will give us next?

Attendant arguments have come from many outside of the television forum who considered the matter. One such spoke about the fast bowlers being requested to "cool the pace" when the slightly framed miss was at bat.

That suggestion should be directed to the exit door. This is cricket, and if the fire from the oven burns, take to the fridge.

Female talent abounds, but where are the incentives at the lower level to have it soar to the world ranking lists where only the very best reside.

female opportunities

In the same way that situations and competitions have been birthed where the lesser male talent can access, and there to hone and improve their gifts, let us have it for the ladies.

Any administration unable to come up with a league where the ladies can play among themselves, as in Captain Horace Burrell territory, must question its authenticity.

It cannot be acceptable - injury concerns or not - to consign our females to play with men, or vice-versa, as a means of seeking the exposure to explore and enhance talent.

Wilford 'Billy' Heaven, the local cricket boss, is under pressure from recent reports, his stewardship of his post being brought into question.

An initiative labelled "find a women's cricket league with the required sponsorship" could be the lifeboat he surely needs.

He is advised to rip it from its moorings, get aboard and sail into the corridors of financial strength - there, to find the forward thinkers willing to do the unthinkable - invest where there is no instant appeal, but hope of brighter days.

This is one situation where 'leaving passengers on board' while the man at the helm seeks a big payday for the ladies of cricket might avoid the serious sanctions that usually occur in maritime culture.

Ladies are ladies, and the Williams, as seen on television, can withstand any femininity test.

They need to be treated as such and not thrown to the wolves to give administrators the false feeling that they are doing that for which they are elected.

Your dice, Billy.