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By Sudatta Mukherjee
In 2006, when the former Women’s Cricket Association of India (WICA) merged with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), there was hope that women’s cricket in India would finally develop. The cash-rich BCCI has enough clout in world cricket to take women’s cricket to great heights. However, what one has seen is nothing more than false promises.India has not played a Test match since 2006.
The BCCI simply refuses to organise Test matches. There are hardly any domestic matches for women. India skipper Mithali Raj once said that the BCCI should organise more matches, spread right through the year,rather than just playing matches before big tournaments like the World Cup to prepare the team.
In an exclusive interview with CricketCountry, Mithali said, “We just get to play one or two series [throughout the year]. It gets very difficult for a player to sustain the momentum. We usually play one at the start of the year and one at the end of the year. That’s a huge gap for any player to sustain good form. In four series, a male cricketer becomes an experienced player. In contrast, it takes a much longer time for a woman because we play very less matches.”
Diana Edulji, former India Test cricketer, said, “If [the] BCCI has taken up an assignment, if they have decided to run women’s cricket, they should run it in a proper way, [and] not for the sake of running it. Until you make them play the longer version, until you give them the financial support, until you promote it, how will [it] attract people. [The] BCCI has no shortage of funds. They are rolling in money. So if they roll out a little bit for women cricketers, I don’t think there should be any problem.”
There is a clear dissatisfaction among women cricketers in India, and understandably so. Surely, the BCCI could have done much more for the women’s team. It is not that the BCCI doesn’t have the power and resources to promote women’s cricket in India.
Prior to the ongoing World Cup, the Indian women last played a One-Day International (ODI) series in July 2012, almost half a year ago. Whereas, Australia last played in December against New Zealand.
It clearly shows that India didn’t get enough practice before the much-awaited high-profile tournament. The gender bias is unmistakable because the BCCI has a packed cricketing schedule for the men’s team. Surely, they can also take measures and prepare a competitive schedule for the women’s as well.
The BCCI has everything in their hands if they sincerely wish to promote women’s cricket. Indian women have the capability to beat England and Australia. In July 2012, Indian eves were up 2-0 against England, in England, before going down 2-3 in an ODI series.
The Indian women’s team can only win when they play more and more matches and grow in confidence. India has a very good team with the likes of Jhulan Goswami, Mithali Raj, Niranjana Nagarajan, Reema Malhotra, Gouher Sultana, etc. However, their talents are of no use if they are made to play only two series in a year and India will continue to perform the way it has in the World Cup.
As Edulji said, “I would prefer a male coach. I have nothing against Anju Jain. She is doing a good job. But I feel the girls require a proper person to have some fear [induced] because Anju has played with some of these players. So that motivation is not going to come, maybe the friendship is still there. I would prefer a good ex-Test cricketer to take over. But if [the] BCCI is not going to pay, no wonder the men are not going to come [sic].”
One can only hope that the BCCI introspects and works on the areas which will help the team do justice to their talents. The last time India played a Test series, Jhulan Goswami achieved her best bowling figures — 10 for 78 against England.
India has world-class performers who have the ability to become No 1. All it needs is the understanding and support of the BCCI, which is not asking for much. In fact, it’s the duty of the BCCI.
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