Waleed Aly has been criticized by fans for a ‘cringe’ interview comparing the T20 World Cup to under-12 cricket and mistaking superstar skipper Meg Lanning for another player.
Furious fans were quick to express their shock at Aly’s attempt to do a respectful sports interview on Channel 10’s The Project in the wake of the Aussie women’s side’s all-conquering victory at the World Cup 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. Did you play in the under 12s?’ joked Aly.
There are two elements that infuriated fans of one of Australia’s hottest teams of both sexes.
First, Lanning, who has broken more than 8300 runs for her country, has never been a bowler. She has bowled just three overs in her 132-game T20 career for Australia
Meg Lanning guided Australia to another T20 World Cup victory in South Africa against the hosts on Sunday
Lanning was then asked by The Project presenter Waleed Aly (pictured) if the tournament was like ‘under 12s’
The 5/12 against New Zealand’s Aly referenced was taken by native all-rounder Ash Gardner, who just sold for $558,000 in the recent Indian Premier League auction – a fact very easily verified by a quick Google of the scorecard.
It didn’t go unnoticed by viewers, but fans were particularly disappointed with Aly as she compared the tournament to under-12s cricket as Australia beat fierce rivals New Zealand by 97 runs in the opener.
Considering the huge strides both Australia and the world have made in professionalizing women’s cricket, it was an embarrassing comment.
More than 86,000 people converged on the MCG as Australia won the 2020 T20 World Cup, while Sunday’s final in Cape Town was also played in front of a huge, boisterous crowd enjoying a much better level than ‘under 12s’.
The cool-as-a-cucumber Lanning was at her diplomatic best in reply to Aly’s remark, which he could tell found quite amusing, insisting that the level of the tournament was much better than a game of junior cricket.
‘Ah no (it wasn’t a norm for kids under 12). I think it was a harder tournament than it came across. We were put under quite a bit of pressure and were able to respond,” said Lanning.
“That’s the best thing about this group, we really thrive under pressure when things get a little tough and we can pull through.”
Fans couldn’t believe Aly’s way of questioning, knocking down the host of the under-fire show.
Waleed Aly, pictured at a 2021 launch, has been labeled ‘disrespectful’ for his comment to Lanning
“F**k that was cringe,” one wrote on social media, while another begged The Project to “never let Waleed go anywhere near sports again.”
Prominent sports journalist Lachlan McKirdy was among many to show his disbelief at the footage, saying: ‘I don’t know if Waleed Aly talking about their victory over New Zealand in the group stage and saying ‘it was like cricket under 12′ is the compliment he thinks it is’.
Another irate fan called the comment an “absolute joke of a comment.”
‘The lack of research is so evident. Why would he embarrass himself like this in front of the greatest cricket captain ever!’ wrote the fan.
Meg Lanning unleashes one of her iconic cover drives in Sunday’s finale. She was mistaken for her teammate Ash Gardner by Aly
Sunday’s 19-run victory over a competitive South African team was Australia’s fifth major tournament victory since 2018, with Lanning’s team winning last year’s 2018, 2020 and 2023 T20 World Cups, the 2022 ODI World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold won.
Star-fast bowler Megan Schutt said the victory over South Africa was not without a few fears – in direct contrast to an ‘under 12s’ level opponent.
“She (Laura Wolvaardt) hit them damn well – and so did Chloe (Tryon),” she said after the game.
“So by the end it was honestly kind of scary.
“We were under the pump, don’t get me wrong… she was probably trying to square me and that put her in, but she hit the floor beautifully. Crucial wicket, but just lucky it went off.’
Megan Schutt (left) attributed Australia’s recovery from a ‘scare’ in the final to Meg Lanning’s unflappable attitude (right)
Cheering Aussie players celebrate their fifth major tournament in six years at Cape Town’s Newlands Cricket Ground
Schutt attributed the team’s ability to ride the wave against a home team backed by a very patriarchal crowd to Lanning’s unflappable demeanor, something she also flaunted in the Aly interview.
“I think because she (Lanning) rubs a pretty quiet disposition on us,” she said.
She presents this composure. I mean, her chat for this game was cool because it was a little more ampy, a few swear words in there – Meg doesn’t swear much! — 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 Aussie women’s squad will then be in action for a blockbuster Ashes series in England in June.