Aussie Hall of Famer's big concern about women's cricket

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Lisa Sthalekar was on Friday inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. Pic: Getty
Lisa Sthalekar was on Friday inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. Pic: Getty

Lisa Sthalekar on Friday became just the fourth woman to be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.

A vocal advocate the women's game, Sthalekar quickly turned the conversation away from own incredible achievement, in a classy moment that demonstrates her passion for the betterment of the sport.

‘WHAT THE HELL’: Cricket fans stunned by 'world's weirdest action'

'WEAK': Former Aussie captain slams Justin Langer controversy

The former national captain and women's international player of the year - now a commentator - has been a leading voice pushing for progress in the women's game since she retired in 2013.

The 41-year-old was among the 86,174 spectators at the MCG in March last year who witnessed Australia beat India to win the T20 World Cup.

It was a defining moment in Australian sport and one Sthalekar hoped would help launch women's cricket into a new era.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and women's cricket was unfortunately placed on hold - a regrettable situation that threatens to stagnate the progress made.

The Indian women's team have not played since that night at the MCG and Sthalekar admits the resumption of the women's game has felt like an afterthought for many countries.

"Women's cricket was building up really nicely and the T20 World Cup on March 8 showed what you can do if you invest heavily and market it properly," Sthalekar said.

"I felt women's cricket was about to kick off, then a week later the whole world shut down.

Australia's victory in the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup was a landmark moment for the game. Pic: Getty
Australia's victory in the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup was a landmark moment for the game. Pic: Getty

"Everyone went back to automatic pilot (and thought) 'what's going to give us revenue?' It's the men's game.

"I urge national boards and the ICC to ensure that the women's game globally grows off the back of that World Cup because I'd like to think 80,000-plus at the MCG can be a common occurrence."

Sthalekar won a combined four World Cups with Australia in 20 and 50-over formats during more than a decade in the green and gold, retiring after the 2013 World Cup win in Mumbai.

The spin-bowling allrounder accepted her honour on Friday, joining Merv Hughes and the late Johnny Mullagh as 2021 Australian Cricket Hall of Fame inductees.

Aussie icon wants more women’s Tests

Sthalekar only played eight Tests during her professional career but believes more longer form matches should be on the agenda for women's cricket.

With the likes of South Africa, New Zealand and India all capable of incorporating a four-day match into their tour schedules, she says a successful focus on women's Test cricket is achievable.

Regardless, the India-born Sthalekar, who was adopted by American parents, marvels at the progress since she arrived in Sydney as a child.

"It's been an interesting road as an immigrant coming into Australia and trying to fit in, and sport was certainly the way that I did it," she said.

"I didn't even know women's cricket existed ... because they were all boys that played on a Saturday morning.

"I went down to my first trial, it was all boys there and I didn't want to step out of the car.

"But my father insisted and I'm glad that he did."

Hannah Darlington, Elyse Villani, Will Sutherland and Shaun Marsh were also honoured on Friday, ahead of Saturday's virtual Australian Cricket Awards.

Darlington and Sutherland were named Betty Wilson and Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year respectively, while experienced duo Villani and Marsh earned domestic player of the year honours.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.