06 Feb

Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar says it’s time for cricket’s governing bodies to introduce regular women’s Test cricket, declaring greater professionalism will only help the sport. Sthalekar, the third and final inductee elevated this year into the Australian cricket hall of fame, said the red-ball format should not only be the preserve of an Ashes series. 

“Speaking to all the international players, Australia and England are the only two countries that really get to play Tests. I think India is the only other country to have played in the last decade,” Sthalekar, who also captained NSW, said on Friday. 

“Certainly the way that the Ashes format is, which is three ODIs, three T20s and one Test, is something that I am sure India, New Zealand and South Africa, some of the stronger nations, really want to push for.” 

Sthalekar said Test cricket remained the “premium product” for men, but women did not, or rarely, get the chance to take part in the traditional format. 

“That is certainly an area that, no doubt, the ACA (Australian Cricketers Association), FICA (Federation of International Cricketers Association), but also I know Cricket Australia have already started to have discussions about that. I would love to see an Ashes-type format brought in with the top nations,” she said. 

Sthalekar, an Indian migrant who wanted to represent Australia from the age of 15, has helped to shape women’s cricket in more ways than one. 

An attacking, spin-bowling all-rounder, who played in eight Tests, 125 one-day internationals and 54 Twenty20 internationals from 2001-13, scored 3913 runs, including three centuries, Sthalekar played in four World Cup-winning teams across the ODI and T20 formats. 

A dual Belinda Clark award winner, she was part of a generation of stars, including Belinda Clark and Mel Jones, who lifted the profile of the women’s side through the 1990s and the first decade of this century. The current generation has built on that, with Meg Lanning’s side becoming one of Australia’s favourite teams, complete with household personalities such as Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Ash Gardner and Lanning. 

Since her retirement, Sthalekar, 41, has promoted increased professionalism of the women’s game through her time on the boards of the ACA and FICA. She is also a prominent commentator on men’s and women’s cricket. 

Sthalekar is only the second CA hall of fame inductee of colour, joining Indigenous star Johnny Mullagh, who, along with Merv Hughes, will officially be inducted at CA’s annual awards night on Saturday where the Allan Border medallist and Belinda Clark award for the best men’s and women’s player of the past year will be unveiled. It will be a virtual event this year but the winners of four domestic awards were released on Friday.

 Award winners: 

Betty Wilson Young Cricketer: Hannah Darlington Bradman 

Young Cricketer: Will Sutherland 

Female Domestic Player of the Year: Elyse Villani 

Male Domestic Player of the Year: Shaun Marsh 

Hall of Fame inductees: Lisa Sthalekar, Merv Hughes, Johnny Mullagh   

John Stephenson 


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