“When I started playing I didn’t even know that women’s cricket existed and then people said why are you playing a boys’ sport?” Lisa said. The landscape has changed for the better as she pointed, “I can say that the sport is now seen as a men’s and women’s game. It’s not just one gender (game). So, that’s been a huge transformation.”
Lisa, who has been appointed as advisor of the Rajasthan Royals‘ youth cricket for junior programmes, was speaking on the sidelines of a training session with youngsters at the RCA Academy.
Not born to play with Barbies, the all-rounder who has played 125 ODIs and 8 Tests, recalled her first commentary stint that was just five minutes long. “In 2010 when I was still playing I got an opportunity to commentate for five overs with Tony Greig on one side and Mark Nicholas on the other. I was nervous, but enjoyed it so much that five minutes went in the blink of an eye.”
Sitting up in ‘the best seat’ of the house right behind the bowlers’ arm, Lisa thought it was ‘pretty cool’. “I felt I won’t mind doing it after I finish playing. So from then on it was always on my mind to do commentary and also I was conscious of the fact that as a female fan I never got to hear women talking about the game…and I said why not give it a shot!”
That was a time when there were not more than a couple of women commentating on radio, and no one for television. “Thankfully now we have a group of women involved. It has taken a little bit of time for everyone to get used to our voices, but certainly I feel that the general public has appreciated a different point of view and a different way of expression,” the 39-year-old said.
The amenable environment of the commentary box has added to her growth as a commentator. “May be Mark Nicholas was being very kind, but after I went off the air during my first commentary assignment, he said while talking about something – Lisa made a very good point, and I was like, oh! I made a good point.”
But it was during her first IPL commentary stint in 2015 that she got to spend a lot of time with the likes of Danny Morrison and Mpumelelo Mbangwa who gave her ample feedback to help her better her performance. “Certainly, all of the male commentators have been so welcoming and I have enjoyed their company. They are a family away from home,” she said.
In 2015 a team of women commentators, of which Lisa too was a part, was introduced for the first time in the tournament. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands and ensured each one of them had each other’s support. “There was a conscious effort from all of us to get it right,” the Aussie said.
Making a revelation, the former right-hand batter said that the female commentators have a whatsapp group. “We are 10-12 commentators in the group. We all keep in touch and if someone is doing well we congratulate them there…it’s a very supportive group,” she said.
There is a steady effort in place to better women’s cricket and if Under-19 women’s World Cup becomes a reality, dynamics will change manifold. “A massive step it will be. A few of us have been calling for Under-19 women’s WC. It will persuade national boards introduce more youth programmes in domestic cricket. Though some countries do it and do it well,” shared the all-rounder.
She believes a step like this by the ICC will expose the players to a different type of environment where there’s a higher level of expectations and will bridge the gap when women cricketers will play at an even higher level.
“That’s why even Rajasthan Royals are getting me on board as the advisor of their youth programme. They are willing to put time and effort in women’s cricket. We don’t have women’s IPL yet, but they want to ensure that the girls have the same opportunity as boys. And one day if there’s a women’s IPL or any other opportunity then the girls can also come through Royals Spark programme. So that’s also one reason why I was very keen to join them,” Lisa said.
Great thing about this association with the Rajasthan Royals is I am going back to something I used to do for New South Wales as their youth programmes manager, ” she signed off.