New Question of Sport host Quek backs gender-neutral language on eve of The Hundred

·3-min read
Olympian Sam Quek takes part in A Catalyst For Parity In Sport panel event
Olympian Sam Quek takes part in A Catalyst For Parity In Sport panel event

Olympian Sam Quek is all in favour of The Hundred’s gender-neutral language, but begged forgiveness for those who take time adjusting to cricket’s new vernacular, writes Rachel Steinberg.

Wirral native Quek, 32, grew up dreaming of a professional football career before committing to hockey, where both the men’s and women’s international squads receive identical pay and have access to the same facilities and personnel.

And hockey’s FIH Pro League sees men and women compete on the same pitches, on the same days, for equal prize money—just like

The Hundred, the new 100-ball tournament launching on July 21st at the Kia Oval.

Gone are traditional terms like “batsman” and “man of the match”, which have been replaced by “batter” and “hero of the match” in an effort to level the linguistic playing field.

“The change of language is really important, because it normalises sport for boys an girls,” said the Rio 2016 gold medallist who this week was named one of the new captains on A Question of Sport.

“But you also have to remember that it’s been one way for the majority—if not all the time.

“So if a player or someone in the media says ‘congratulations on winning Man of the Match’ they shouldn’t be shot down. They shouldn’t be penalised.

“If they do say it, apologise and say actually I should have said X, Y and Z. That’s just part of the normalising process.”

As an athlete and broadcaster, Quek has long been a staunch advocate for women’s sport. Still, admitted the empathetic Olympian, sometimes even she stumbles.

“It’s OK to make mistakes,” she said. “It’s not just going to be the media that get it wrong.

“I know when I go back to club hockey, my entire career I’ve said to my teammates ‘man on’ if they’re under pressure. “It’s not like there’s any malice or meaning behind it. It’s just the way it’s always been.

“We have to make the mistakes to get to a place where we want to be.”

With its bright jewel-toned uniforms and in-house DJs at each of its eight venues, The Hundred, which has already sold out of season tickets, promises to be the sporting spectacle of the summer.

But to Quek, who gave birth to baby daughter Molly in March, a vital paradigm shift will accompany the pomp.

She said: “It’s going to be amazing to watch, but it’s so much more than that, especially in women’s sport.

“The fact that the gender parity is there, both in language, winning prize money, things like that is huge.

“It sets out such a statement for other sports as well.”

As a girl, playing kickabout in her garden, Quek “aspired to be Steve McManaman, purely because there was no women’s football on TV.”

All 34 women’s matches in The Hundred will be broadcast on Sky Sports’ YouTube channel, allowing aspiring cricketers unprecedented access to their heroes.

By the time Molly might want to commit to a sport of her own, Quek hoped, parity, equal pay and visibility will simply be the status quo.

She said: “It’s huge, because it not only sets a standard in sport, but also in life.

“Whatever sport she goes into, to start life on an equal level with men would be fantastic.”

You can see and be part of history: show your support and attend the first game of The Hundred on 21 July at The Kia Oval #BeThere.