Isa Guha: England is the worst for misogynist remarks

Updated: Jun 09, 2019, 08:11 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

Far from being another pretty face before the camera, former English fast bowler Isa Guha continues to break new ground as a no-nonsense commentator and broadcaster

Isa Guha
Isa Guha

Cricket is a gentleman's game. The lords at Lord's swear by this line. So, what do you do if you're a woman cricketer? Make your own rules or rewrite them. Isa Guha, who is doing commentary for the ongoing World Cup with Channel 4 England, Star Sports, BBC Radio and Fox Sports, believes so. She was the first South Asian origin woman to represent England in any sport in 2002, rose to become Wisden's No. 1 bowler in 2009, and is now a popular broadcaster. The former cricketer with Bengali roots continues to break new ground across male dominated arenas.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

Commentary is no longer about pretty faces. What challenge did you face in the early days?
I'd hear, "Get back in the kitchen," and "You've never played the men's game". People are waking up to the fact that women add a different perspective. While there is a big difference in power, there are still a lot of similarities in terms of mindset, team ethos, preparation and skill set across the women's and men's game.

Is sport still a male domain?
You've got to ignore the regressive comments. I was taken aback by positive feedback in Australia where I expected a lot more resistance. Across the world there is 90 per cent support for what we do. However, I'm sad to say that in my experience, England is probably the worst for misogynist remarks.

How is women's cricket run today? Can tournaments like the mini IPL league help?
Absolutely. A women's IPL has been on the cards for a long time. The women's game is only going to grow but it's important that the right infrastructure is in place and the best teams don't pull away from the pack, both at the international and domestic level. World Cups have shown there is an appetite for women's cricket, with huge numbers tuning in. We are also seeing that now on the domestic front with the Big Bash in Australia and Kia Super League in England.

What are England's chances in this World Cup?
They've got the squad to do it but it is about so much more in tournament play. It's about being ruthless in critical moments and believing in yourself, no matter what — something Australia have always been good at.

What do you think about the lack of an equal pay structure?
In broadcast, my view is that if you're doing the same job as your male counterpart, you should be paid the same. There is also a value that you set yourself at depending on where you're at in your career — based on experience and ability. As a woman cricketer, I felt privileged to play for my country. Women have been afraid to ask for what they deserve — something that the men are good at. However, I see this changing.

You are an MPhil in Neuroscience, having done in research on alzheimer's and dementia. Why did you take up that up?
This was always the original career path — I am particularly interested in how the brain works at the chemical level. We know very little about our neural circuitry and how it can lead to decision-making. I am keen to explore this in sport.

Rapid fire

  • Women’s cricketer to watch out for: Sophie Ecclestone (England).
  • Male cricketer you’d like to bowl to: I was fortunate to bowl to Sachin in the nets at Lords so I would say, Brian Lara.
  • Cricketing mantra that held you in good stead: Watch the ball. Simple but effective.
  • When you aren’t commentating you are: Listening to music or attending gigs.
  • Inspirational personality off the field: Kath Koschel @kindnessfactory.

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