What’s in a name? Quite a lot when you’re striving for equality.
The Australia women’s team will no longer be officially known as the Southern Stars and will instead be referred to as the Australian women’s cricket team in Cricket Australia communication henceforth, the board announced in a symbolic move towards gender neutrality alongside the men’s team.
CA announced the decision at its weekend function in honour of the winning teams at the 1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005 and 2013 women’s World Cups, in Brisbane, on Saturday night, after members of the national team had wondered for some years why they needed a nickname.
Unlike national sides in other sports, the Australian men’s team, which played and toured for 24 years prior to Federation in 1901, has never needed to be referred to by any label other than “Australia” or “the Australians”. CA chairman David Peever said the announcement places the women on equal footing.
“This move may appear symbolic, but it does carry considerable weight,” he said. “Cricket cannot hope to be a sport for all Australians if it does not recognise the power of words, and the respect for women that sits behind such decisions.
“As we saw on Saturday night, Australia’s female cricketers are among the very best sportspeople this country has ever produced. Australia has captured six of the ten World Cup titles, winning more than 87 percent of the matches it has contested, an astonishing figure. Today’s team is ranked number one in the world across all three formats of the game.
“We are not dropping the ‘Southern Stars’, a wonderful brand that our cricketers have created and which will remain as an alternative name for the team, but the new naming convention demonstrates that Cricket Australia is looking at all the ways in which it operates to ensure we can meet the ambition of being a sport for all.”
While players have raised the question of the team’s name at various points in the past, Peever said it was the words of the prominent businesswoman Ann Sherry at last year’s Australian Cricket Conference that made board directors and management think about it more closely.
“Ann rightly questioned,” he said, “whether we were walking the talk, whether we understood what it takes to be truly gender neutral, and a sport that is welcoming to women.”
The team, captained by Meg Lanning, will depart for England on Friday for this year’s 50-over global tournament. They are scheduled to play a warm-up match against South Africa at Oakham on June 20, before their tournament opener gets underway against West Indies on June 26 in Taunton.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.