In Australia, there are 73 known statues and sculptures of male cricket players. There are none of women.
Today, Cricket Australia has announced this glaring lack of public recognition of women in cricket is going to change, with the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) set to become the new home for Australia’s first statue in honour of a woman.
The player to be immortalised at the SCG is yet to be decided, but there are quite a few legends of the game in the mix. Betty Wilson, who played for Australia in the 1940s and 50s, former Australian captain Belinda Clark, the Gregory sisters – Nellie, Louise, Alice and Gertrude – who were some of the first women to play the game in Australia in the late 1800s, are among the frontrunners. Current stars Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning are also said to be considered.
“Precisely one year ago, we were celebrating a ground-breaking moment when 86,174 fans packed the MCG for the final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup,” Cricket Australia interim CEO Nick Hockley said.
“So many challenges have been presented since that day, and it is now more important than ever that we keep pushing for equality in cricket and keep building the momentum established before the pandemic.
“This is a historic moment for the game with Venues NSW today committing to the first sculpture of a female cricketer at the Sydney Cricket Ground.”
As part of their commitment to progress gender equality for women in cricket, Cricket Australia has also formed a Recognition of Women in Cricket Working Group, which will focus publicly recognising more female players.
Journalist Angela Pippos, current Australian vice-captain Rachael Haynes and former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar are among the initial members of the working group. The first step has been securing a commitment from Venues NSW to house the first sculpture of a female cricketer at the SCG.
An artwork by award-winning artist Vincent Fantauzzo has also been commissioned, that will depict the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final, to be showcased within the Level 2 corridors of the Melbourne Cricket Club Members’ Reserve.
The artwork will feature as a regular part of the Melbourne Cricket Ground tour, which means more than 40,000 school children each year will learn the story of the T20 World Cup final.
Also today, Netball Victoria has called upon the Victorian state government to fund the addition of a statue of a netball legend at the newly named John Cain arena. Currently there are 29 statues of male sporting icons in Melbourne and just three of women.
“The gap between male and female sports icons is too wide,” Netball Victoria CEO Rosie King said.
“We have to empower our young women by showing them that they are equally as capable of achieving excellence in sport by reflecting the same icons and tributes that our male athletes have enjoyed.
“Statues are powerful symbols that stand the test of time. They are monuments that matter which tell stories about how we as a community view the world and are a constant reminder of the legacy that our sporting legends have left with their sport, and we need to acknowledge our incredible women in far greater numbers.
“We know that sport is a powerful vehicle for change and now more than ever, we need to visibly promote the success of our female athletes who are in every way as worthy as the men. Statues may be silent but their presence in our community speaks volumes.”
Sharelle McMahon, Joyce Brown, Lisa Alexander, Simone McKinnis and Norma Plummer are the deserving names proposed by Netball Victoria.