Rory Burns didn’t react well to Alex Hartley’s joke on Twitter. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Rory Burns didn’t react well to Alex Hartley’s joke on Twitter. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Women’s cricket has a bright future but bullies lurk on these social media streets

By Opinion Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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By Zaahier Adams

UNTIL last week Rory Burns was most likely only known as the England opener with the peculiar batting stance.

Yes, the guy who crouches like a crab before rubbing his chin against his right shoulder as he takes guard to look in the direction of mid-on with his bat angled towards the gully region.

But now everyone knows him for trolling former England's women cricketer Alex Hartley on Twitter. Hartley, who played 32 times for England between 2016 and 2019, tweeted after the England's men's team two-day defeat to India: "Nice of the England boys to get this Test match finished just before England Women play tonight" with four clapping emojis.

Burns, in response, tweeted at 1am: "Very disappointing attitude considering all the 'boys' do to support the Women's game". The tweet was liked by fellow England internationals James Anderson and Ben Stokes, while Ben Duckett termed Hartley's tweet as "average".

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Burns has since been internally reprimanded by the England management on tour in India.

While it all seems to have been taken care of in a very amicable English manner, with Hartley also saying "no offence was meant" with her post, it did open an interesting debate on social media about who actually was wrong. Was it Hartley or Burns?

My opinion on the matter is that Burns was obviously offended that a fellow England cricketer would post what she did moments after the men's national team had suffered a humbling defeat.

For me, though, Burns' retaliation had much greater consequences. His tweet opened the door for fellow male cricketers to climb on the bandwagon in vilifying Hartley.

It is such bullying behaviour that women - not only in cricketing terms - have had to contend with throughout their lives.

Women's cricket may have increased in popularity in recent years with the anniversary of last year's record crowd attendance at the MCG for the ICC T20 World Cup fast approaching, but the game is still light years behind the men in terms of being played on a level playing field.

The women's game has to fight for every minute of broadcasting time, while the battle to secure sponsorship revenue is equally hard. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the two feed off each other.

A further case in point is how the women's game has been managed during Covid-19 in comparison to the men's game.

India, the World T20 and World Cup Women's runners-up, have not played any competitive cricket together since the Katie Perry-inspired party in Melbourne last year. In contrast, Virat Kohli's team have been on a full tour to Australia and are currently hosting England in a Test series.

Their return to cricket this month against the Proteas Women's team is exciting and frustrating in equal measure as they should not have been made to wait this long.

Women's cricket is the future. And everyone better get on the bus if they don't want to be left behind.

@ZaahierAdams

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