‘Batsman’ is now ‘batter’, will ‘third man’ be ‘third’?

‘Batsman' has been amended to 'batter' in laws of cricket by the MCC. The change comes after the usage of gender-neutral terms like the ‘third’ and ‘nightwatch’ in the broadcast.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London, the body that upholds the laws of cricket, have officially introduced a change in cricket terminology. Effective immediately, according to a statement published by the MCC on Wednesday, the term ‘batsman’ and/or ‘batsmen’ will officially be replaced by the gender-neutral term ‘batter.’

The terms ‘batsman/batsmen’ has been in use since 1744 according to The Times. However, the change has been implemented to make the sport gender-inclusive and more welcoming to women players.

The Lawmakers’ Take

In a statement on its website, the MCC said: “At the time of the last redraft in 2017 it was agreed, following consultation with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and key figures within women’s cricket, that the terminology would remain as ‘batsman’ and ‘batsmen’ within the Laws of the game. The changes announced today reflect the wider usage of the terms ‘batter’ and ‘batters’ which has occurred in cricketing circles in the intervening period. The move to ‘batter’ is a natural progression, aligning with the terms of bowlers and fielders that already sit within the Laws.”

Additionally, assistant secretary for cricket and operations at the MCC Jamie Cox claimed that the change was introduced keeping in mind the growth of women’s cricket in the past few years.

“The 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,” he said in a statement.

“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 today.”

Testing ground at The Hundred

At the inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ in England (a women and men’s 100-ball per innings tournament) this July, gender-neutral terms had been tried during coverage. The term ‘batter’ had been used commonly across the men’s and women’s competitions. Additionally, the fielding position ‘third man’ had been referred to simply as ‘third.’

In an earlier Test match involving the English women’s team, the term ‘nightwatchman’ had also been referred to as ‘nightwatch’ by broadcasters. News reports by organisations like the BBC and Sky had also used these terms.

‘Batter’ the only change

Though other terms had been used by broadcasters and news agencies, ‘batter’ is the only change that has been implemented by the MCC at the moment.

“The fielding position ‘third man,’ along with other cricketing terms like ‘nightwatchman’ and ‘12th Man’ is not included in the Laws, and so any changes to such terms are outside of MCC’s controls as Guardians of the Laws,” read a message the MCC had posted on their Twitter handle.

Meanwhile, 2017 women’s World Cup winner Alexandra Hartley explained on Twitter that she “personally (called) them ‘Third/Short Third’ and ‘Deep Third’” instead of the third man position. She also Tweeted that she “called them ‘Nightwatcher’ at the start of the summer.”

Rise of women’s cricket

The MCC, in its statement, cited the increase in spectatorship of women’s matches as a clear indication of the “unprecedented growth” women’s cricket has experienced these past few years.

The 2017 World Cup final in England, in which the hosts beat India, was played in front of a capacity crowd at Lord’s, with around 24 thousand spectators turning up for the match. Shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak last year, 86,174 spectators turned up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to watch the women’s T20 World Cup final between India and eventual champions Australia. This match set a new record for most spectators at a T20 World Cup final (men or women), breaking the previous 66 thousand record set at the 2016 men’s final between West Indies and England at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

Additionally, a domestic women’s match in England saw a record 17,116 spectators attend the match at The Oval earlier this year.

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