Cricket's lawmakers have made a small but significant change to promote inclusiveness in the sport, but not everyone is a fan of the move.
The Marylebone Cricket Club has replaced the word 'batsman' with the gender-neutral alternative 'batter' in changes to the laws of the game.
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The MCC, which owns Lord's, is recognised as the sole authority on cricket's laws and has taken the decision to update its terminology in a bid to achieve greater inclusivity.
The matter was previously addressed in 2017, but it was decided not to make a change at that point.
Jamie Cox, assistant secretary (Cricket and Operations) at the club, said: "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.
"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."
The decision was largely welcomed on social media, but there were a predictable number of dissenting voices commenting on the MCC's Twitter thread.
Alex Hartley, the 2017 Women's World Cup winner and former Hobart Hurricanes spinner, took on critics of the move.
She wrote "Some of the comments on this post make me angry. If you hate it, grow up. Cricket is a sport for everyone and this is a small but big move."
Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar added: “About time … thank you.”
Cricket writer George Dobell posted: “I know some people are uneasy about this but I’m pretty confident it’s the right thing to do. It harms nobody, costs nothing and might be just a bit more inclusive.”
Cricket fans debate changes to sport
Plenty of fans weighed in on the changes on social media, where many applauded the move, while others criticised it for pandering to a "woke" society.
Batters is logical and should have been in use years ago. We call those who throw the ball bowlers and have never called them bowlsmen or bowlswomen. Give it a couple of years and we’ll use batters without batting (sorry) an eyelid
— Toby Wood (@TobyWoody) September 22, 2021
Yet even more woke stupidity. The MCC (cricket) have now said that in the spirit of inclusivity, batsmen are no more. They are now to be called 'batters!' It's gone bloody crazy!
— Flashman (@Flashma78139552) September 22, 2021
Woke madness. Why do I need to call 11 batsmen "batters" when men are playing? Idiocy.
— Mark Williams (@LibertyAussie) September 22, 2021
Ffs what is wrong with batters? It is a small, sensible change and is more inclusive to an expanding and more popular women’s game.
— Nick Watkins (@nickwatkins1974) September 22, 2021
I'm astonished by some real venom in tweets today about the move from batsmen to batters.
Someone managed to get snowflake, woke and virtue signalling into a sentence. And there's far worse.
What harm does it do to anyone? It's more inclusive, which is great. So grow up!
— Cricket Badger #IPL2021 #T20WorldCup (@cricket_badger) September 22, 2021
Responding to some of the replies, Hartley also suggested use of the words 'nightwatcher' instead of 'nightwatchman' and 'third' in place of 'third man'.
However, the MCC says its laws do not govern fielding positions or other terms for batters, hence why they were not changed as well.
The fielding position ‘third man’, along with other cricketing terms like ‘nightwatchman’ and ‘12th Man’ are not included in the Laws, and so any changes to such terms are outside of MCC’s control as Guardians of the Laws," an MCC statement read on Twitter.
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