Danny Morrison creates controversy addressing Mithali Raj as ‘my dear’
Former New Zealand fast bowler and well-known commentator Danny Morrison has inadvertently caused some backlash during the recently concluded Women’s T20 Challenge in the UAE.
While speaking to former India captain Mithali Raj during an after-match interview, Danny addressed her as ‘My dear’, drawing mixed reactions from the sports world.
While analysing the match with Mithali during the interview, Danny had said, “Tomorrow’s a day off, my dear, Mithali Raj … What are you going to do… […] Chin up, keep smiling.”
Though Mithali laughed off his statement, Danny’s inaugural and conclusive conversation with Mithali drew sharp reactions from many, including former England cricketer Isabelle Westbury, who now is a sports writer, broadcaster and lawyer. “Don’t call international sportswomen ‘my dear’ in interviews. You wouldn’t say it to a man. It shouldn’t need to be said,” Isabelle remarked on her Twitter page.
Women’s cricket journalist, historian and senior lecturer in Sport, Raf Nicholson, also took to her Twitter page to remark her disappointment at Danny’s lack of etiquette. “Can’t believe this has to be said in 2020 but please DO NOT call female players ‘my dear’ or tell them to ‘keep smiling’ when you are interviewing them in the post-match,” she wrote.
Many others, such as former Indian cricketer Shanta Rangaswamy, who now is a member of the Governing Council of the Indian cricket board, thought people were being too sensitive for nothing.
Speaking exclusively to the paper, Shanta stated that she didn’t feel the usage of ‘my dear’ embarrassing. “I don’t see anything wrong. More important than the actual meaning of words is the intent. I don’t think the commentator meant anything indecent. That’s his normal way of talking,” she adds.
Then appealing to all and not to make a mountain of a molehill, Shanta went on to state that such diversions take the attention away from the game. “Let’s remember the intention of BCCI/IPL GC is to provide a global platform for women’s cricket. Hopefully, this T20 women’s challenge is a precursor to starting franchise-based IPL for women in the near future. So let’s not allow such small incidents to divert attention from the game,” she adds.
Mind your language
While calling the comment rather neutral, Konkana Bakshi, an etiquette expert and Founder& Principal Consultant, Savoir Faire Academie, cautioned about speaking professionally. “It was said on a good note and endearingly and certainly not to hurt anyone’s feelings or keeping men–women gender sensitivity too much in mind,” says Konkana. “Having said that, I understand why it must have rubbed a few the wrong way. We must all be careful while communicating.”
Another expert, Sonia Dubey Dewan (AICI CIP Founder & Managing Partner-Indian School of Image Management), shared a different perspective to the argument. “The rule of etiquette is essential to maintaining a professional image and preserving the image of the sports and the sportsperson in their totality. Especially at an international sporting stage such as cricket, which is watched by and influences millions worldwide, one should pay special attention to use gender-neutral titles and pronouns,” Sonia points out.
Then, offering what she calls a quick tip for people to check if they’re being gender-neutral in their behaviour and communication, Sonia advises a little self-reflection. “A person should ask oneself if the comment he/she is about to make to a female sportsperson would be something they say to a male sportsperson, and vice-versa. If the answer is no, then they should refrain from making that comment or asking that question.”