The change in the rules of cricket so that a "batsman" will be called a "batter" has been welcomed by the batters of Canberra.
"I do like batter," Caitlin Galeano who captained Ginninderra Cricket Club last season said. In the past, she would often be called a batsman - though she said it didn't get her down. And she refers to herself as a "batsman", "out of habit".
The Marylebone Cricket Club which is the custodian of the rules of the game where the rules are everything has decided that terms must change with the times: "MCC has today announced amendments to the Laws of Cricket to use the gender-neutral terms 'batter' and 'batters', rather than 'batsman' or 'batsmen'."
MCC has today announced amendments to the Laws of Cricket to use the gender-neutral terms “batter” and “batters”, rather than “batsman” or “batsmen”.— Marylebone Cricket Club (@MCCOfficial) September 22, 2021
Cricket ACT called it a "significant" change. "The MCC is to be congratulated for amending the laws of the game," the chief executive of Cricket ACT, Olivia Thornton, said.
"Moving away from gendered terms and embracing gender-neutral language is important as it helps to promote inclusion, social change and is another step in the right direction in terms of achieving gender equality."
But it turns out that the MCC's decision was pre-empted in Canberra by the people who put together Australia's most authoritative dictionaries.
The compilers of the Australian National Dictionary at the ANU changed "batsman" to "batter" so long ago that the director of the dictionary project can barely remember when.
"We are well ahead of our time," ANU's Dr Amanda Laugesen said.
She knows about words as one of the editors of the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, the Australian Primary Dictionary, the Australian National Dictionary and the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary. They are the dictionaries which schools use.
She said that the policy was to use gender-neutral terms in dictionary definitions but also to bear in mind common usage - in other words, they choose non-sexist words where they exist but also try to use words which are in common use - "police persons", she said, instead of "policemen".
And batter instead of batsman.
She said one of the reasons was the rise of women's sport, including cricket but also AFL.
The increasing perception of cricket as a game for both sexes is changing the way words are used (whatever the MCC decides).
At the recent "The Hundred" series involving men's teams and women's teams, commentators referred to the "night watch" instead of the "night watchman" (a weak batter who is there at the end of the day's play) and the "third man" fielding position as just "the third".
The MCC has decided not to change these terms because they are not actually in the official rules.
Nobody is talking about "maiden over" and whether that term for a run-less over is gender neutral.
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