Waleed Aly has been criticized by fans for a ‘chilling’ interview comparing the T20 World Cup to under-12 cricket and mistaking superstar captain Meg Lanning for another player.
Angry fans were quick to express their shock at Aly’s attempt to conduct a respectful sports interview on Channel 10’s The Project following the Australian women’s team’s triumphant World Cup victory in South Africa.
‘Meg stop sharing the credit, this is about you because you took 5/12 against New Zealand and you were Australia’s second highest scorer, were you playing under-12?’ Aly joked.
There are two elements that have angered supporters of one of Australia’s most popular teams, male and female.
Firstly, Lanning, who broke over 8,300 runs for his country, never bowled. She bowled just three overs in her career of 132 T20 games for Australia
Meg Lanning led Australia to another victory at the T20 World Cup on Sunday in South Africa against the host country
Lanning was then asked by The Project presenter Waleed Aly (pictured) if the tournament was like ‘under 12’
The 5/12 against New Zealand that Aly referred to was taken by Indigenous all-rounder Ash Gardner, who just sold for $558,000 at the recent Indian Premier League auction – a fact easily verified by a quick Google of the scorecard.
This did not go unnoticed by viewers – but fans were particularly disappointed in Aly for comparing the tournament to under-12 cricket, as Australia defeated fierce rivals New Zealand by 97 runs in the opener.
Given the great strides Australia and the entire world have made in the professionalization of women’s cricket, it was an irritating comment.
More than 86,000 people crammed into the MCG as Australia won the 2020 T20 World Cup, while Sunday’s final in Cape Town was also played in front of a raucous crowd that enjoyed a much better standard than ‘under 12s’ ‘.
Cool as a cucumber Lanning was at her diplomatic best in response to Aly’s comment, which he could see finding it quite amusing, insisting that tournament standards were far better than a junior cricket match.
‘Oh no (it wasn’t an under-12 standard). I think it was a tougher tournament than it looked. We were hard-pressed and able to respond,’ Lanning said.
‘That’s the best part of this group, we really thrive under pressure when the going gets a little tough and we’re able to pull through.’
Fans couldn’t believe Aly’s line of questioning, criticizing the show’s host under fire.
Waleed Aly, pictured in a 2021 release, was deemed ‘disrespectful’ for his comment to Lanning
‘Fuck that was terrible,’ wrote one on social media, while another implored The Project to never let Waleed ‘anywhere near the sport again’.
Prominent sportswriter Lachlan McKirdy was one of many to voice his disbelief at the footage, saying: ‘I don’t know if Waleed Aly talking about beating New Zealand in the group stage and saying ‘it was like under-12 cricket’ is the compliment he thinks it is’.
Another furious fan called the comment “an absolute joke of a comment”.
‘The lack of research is so evident. Why would he embarrass himself in front of the greatest cricket captain of all time? the fan wrote.
Meg Lanning releases one of her iconic covers at Sunday’s final. She was mistaken by Aly for her teammate Ash Gardner.
Sunday’s 19-run victory over a competitive South African team was the fifth major tournament victory for Australia since 2018, with Lanning’s team winning the 2018, 2020 and 2023 T20 World Cup 2022 ODI and Commonwealth Games gold last year.
Fast star Megan Schutt said the victory over South Africa had some scares – in direct opposition to an opponent at the ‘under 12’ level.
“She (Laura Wolvaardt) was hitting really well – and so was Chloe (Tryon),” she said after the game.
’ So it was honestly quite scary there at the end.
‘We were under pressure, don’t get me wrong…she probably tried to throw me too square and that wore her down, but she was hitting the ground beautifully. Crucial wicket, but luck it came out.
Megan Schutt (left) attributed Australia’s ability to bounce back from a ‘scare’ in the final to the unflappable behavior of Meg Lanning (right)
Jubilant Australian players celebrate their fifth major tournament in six years at Cape Town’s Newlands Cricket Ground
Schutt attributed the team being able to ride the wave against a home team backed by a very patriarchal crowd to Lanning’s unflappable demeanor, something she also displayed in Aly’s interview.
“I think because she (Lanning) is such a calm character, it kind of influences us,” she said.
‘She presents this calmness. I mean, her chat before this game was cool because it was a little more ampie, some swearing in there – Meg doesn’t swear a lot! – so that was really cool.
“She’s been a leader for so long that she knows what people need to succeed – whether individually or as a team.”
The Australian women’s team will be in action in June for a highly successful series in England.