Cornes concerns spark debate about women’s sport while criticizing Lanning’s tactics, AFLW standards and inequality in tennis


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Former AFL player Kane Cornes has sparked a debate over concerns over criticism of women’s sport with Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry among many to respond to his polarizing views.

Cornes, who played for Port Adelaide in the AFL and hosts a breakfast show on SEN Radio, raised concerns in a column called The Elephant in the Room with Women’s Sport which states that “the media and fans are afraid to objectively analyze what they are watching. lest he appear critical, which will create a fierce reaction from an overly sensitive cohort”.

He then told the radio that people were “petrified” to criticize sportswomen.

The basis for his article stems from a tweet by English journalist Isabelle Westbury, Seven and Triple M commentator and former Premier Class cricketer, who posted a message of support for Australia captain Meg Lanning as the test of the Last week’s ashes in Canberra were heading towards what turned out to be a thrilling end that ended in a draw.

“No matter what, fire players, fire Lanning, and fire telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. Because whatever it is, it’s great. Always against the odds, always surprising. Oh , and it will end up as the fastest score test.

Cornes thought fellow Westbury commentator Brad Hodge was reluctant to be too negative about Lanning’s tactics.

He maintained that she had had “a shock”.

“His field placements were too defensive against opposition needing around five points and his reluctance to win his quick game when the game was at a critical juncture deserves careful assessment.

“If it had been the poor captaincy choices of former male skippers Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting or God forbid Michael Clarke, it would have been front page news.”

Perry, who was part of the Australian side that walked away from a wicket to win the Test, responded to Cornes via social media accepting some of his feelings but rejecting his claim that King’s strident comment of the men’s team spin Shane Warne is “must see TV”.

“It is absolutely necessary for the evolution of women’s sport that objective analysis and criticism be given,” she tweeted.

“I think most female athletes really appreciate that because it validates their performance and effort or that of their team.

“However, I think it’s a bad reflection on our viewership population if we think a ‘warpath of criticism’ and overt negativity towards teams or athletes is a lot of TV watching.”

Westbury also responded via social media to say she agrees with Cornes’ assessment that women’s sport should be analyzed and critiqued where warranted, but said her “particular contribution has been misunderstood” in reference to the original tweet.

“If we can’t criticize women’s sport, it will never progress. 100%. What is lost is that we often hold women to an impossible standard. Spec. in Tests on declarations, risk taking, etc.

“Women declare more and are much more offensive with tactics. But they are often blamed for dummies. Which is completely pointless. So yes, my contribution was in a particular scenario. Otherwise, thanks to Gawd for the likes of Hodge, Copeland, Ferling et al. on the cover of 7. Critical analysis = key.

Lanning’s statement turned out to be correct. She closed Australia’s second set at 7-216 to set England a record goal of 257 from 48 overs to win the single Test.

Despite needing 5.35, the Tourists looked set to win before a late 6-27 collapse meant last pair Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone blocked the final two overs to avoid defeat.

Compared to Pat Cummins’ late statement on day four of the Men’s Fourth Test at the SCG, Lanning’s decision was much better – all four results were on the cards until the final ball as Cummins effectively eliminated England from their match and they were able to occupy the crease to force a draw rather than chase a win and potentially offer more wicket-taking chances.

Cornes also raised questions about AFLW coverage saying he thought “there has been some really poor team performance and games in general”.

“I’m fully aware that the players are part-time and juggling between work and football, but six seasons later we should expect all players to be able to execute a standard punt and the teams should definitely be able to get into the 50 front zone more than 10 times in a game.

“Players are desperate to grow the game and become full-time. The only way for this to happen is if the media coverage is much more interesting, which will increase engagement in the sport.

He also called on tennis to increase women’s matches to five sets, pointing to the fact that Ash Barty’s final was four hours shorter than Rafael Nadal’s epic but each player “collected more than 2.8 million dollars for their respective victories”.

Very reasonably, he pointed out that women “have been competing and thriving in one of the most grueling events in the world – the marathon at the Olympics – since 1984”, so tennis cannot claim the disparity is based on physical differences.

He summed up his view by saying that the gap between praise and criticism of women’s sport is “terribly lopsided”, which does more harm than good and that “women’s codes will flourish at a rapid pace when this eventually s ‘to balance”.


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