World Cup winning cricket star Alex Blackwell spoke candidly about her long-time battle against entrenched sexism and homophobia at an event at Griffith City Library on Tuesday, 12 July.
The Wagga-born international, who was raised on a Yenda farm, signed copies of her new book Fair Game, which she described as a “cricket book that isn’t really about cricket”.
“It’s more a love story,” she told a crowd of about 140 Griffith residents.
While Fair Game delves into her 14-year international test cricket career, it also chronicles her relationship with wife Lynsey Askew, also a cricketer, whom Ms Blackwell married in 2015.
“That was before gay marriage was legalised in Australia,” she said
“I was the first international cricketer to ‘come out’ publicly, which was something I never really planned.
“It wasn’t easy … it was a story I wanted to tell and I’m glad I did.
“Why should there be so few books sporting books by women?”
Ms Blackwell said her book had attracted attention from people who know nothing about her sport.
“I’ve had someone come up to me and say, ‘thanks for writing this book, I’m gay and I just lost my job working in a religious institution’.”
Cricket Australia, though, seemed less of a fan of her sexuality, at least in the early days.
Journalist Megan Maurice, the co-author of Fair Game, asked Ms Blackwell about the sporting body’s marketing strategy to promote only female cricketers who were blonde, thin and “heterosexual” looking.
“It just didn’t feel authentic,” Ms Blackwell said
“My opportunities were restricted because they were promoting a certain type of women.
“They were saying they had a problem with gay athletes.”
Ms Blackwell praised the AFL, who she said had been more willing to promote a wide range of female players “tatts and all”.
Though late to the party, cricket is slowly changing for the better, she said.
Cricket was the sport Ms Blackwell loved from a very young age. She would play on her Yenda farm with twin sister Kate, using a tree stump as a wicket. Kate would also go on to play for Australia, and Alex nominated her as the person who most influenced her career.
“But if it wasn’t for volunteers in Yenda, I wouldn’t have ever had a cricket career,” she said
Ms Blackwell played tribute to her childhood coaches, teachers and classmates, many of whom were in the crowd.
After her talk, Ms Blackwell showed her true all-round skills, nursing her five-month-old baby Edith whilst signing copies of her books for a long queue of fans; and generously providing encouragement to buddying young female athletes.
If anyone missed out on speaking to her at the library event, Ms Blackwell assured them she’d still be in Griffith today, Wednesday, 13 July.
“I’ll be at the park next door and have a Bertoldo’s roll, because I’ve missed them,” she said.