We’re a sporting nation here in Australia, but if there’s one sport we take immense pride in, it’s cricket. Over the decades, Australia has produced some of the biggest names in the sport, from Donald Bradman to Steve Waugh and Shane Warne. So intense is our passion for the game that our summer holiday is defined by it. Others might consider the final months on the calendar relatively empty, too late to finish anything and too early to start something new. But for us, the Boxing Day match is the highlight of the year, and an indication of the weeks ahead which revolve around the game and the backyard cricket that punctuates home viewing. Now, what’s long been touted as the ‘gentleman’s game’ is getting something of a makeover, with the MCC announcing the laws of cricket will be amended to remove batsman and replace it with batter.
The shift to batter comes as the MCC believes the use of gender-neutral terminology will help “reinforce cricket’s status as an inclusive game for all”. It’s not the first time such a change has been considered, with a previous drafting of the laws in 2017 seeing the suggestion raised only to be rejected at the time. But perhaps in keeping with the current social climate, the MCC has now come to believe “the move to ‘batter’ is a natural progression, aligning with the terms of bowlers and fielders that already sit within the laws”. There’s still a number of gendered terms that remain in use, such as the likes of maiden overs, nightwatchman and third man, but none of these are officially sanctioned.
As Jamie Cox, the MCC’s assistant secretary, expressed in an interview with The Guardian: “MCC believes in cricket being a game for all and this move recognises the changing landscape of the game in modern times. Use of the term ‘batter’ is a natural evolution in our shared cricketing language and the terminology has already been adopted by many of those involved in the sport.”
Cox added, “It is the right time for this adjustment to be recognised formally and we are delighted, as the Guardians of the Laws, to announce these changes.”
Many were quick to express their delight at the changes, with Alex Hartley, the 2017 Women’s World Cup winner and Lancashire captain welcoming the decision. The cricket charity Chance to Shine also expressed their support for the change and said it would help make cricket more inclusive and welcoming. But even despite the widespread celebration, there were a number of outspoken critics. Piers Morgan accused cricket of “going all PC” while Simon Heffer, historian and columnist for the Daily Telegraph, described the move as “ultra-woke grandstanding” and criticised the MCC for “adopting this revolting word where a perfectly serviceable and universally understood one had long existed.”
Heffer added, “There will be legions of cricket lovers of both genders through whose lips the abomination of ‘batter’ will never pass so long as we live.”