India women team celebrate their victory in one-off Test against England © Getty Images
Aug 17, 2014
Diana Edulji, the former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, has said that the side’s Test win over England should serve as a “wake-up call” for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to promote women’s cricket in the country. Mithali Raj’s team beat England by six wickets in their first Test in eight years and Edulji said BCCI should ensure that they play at least one Test in every series.
“It is a very, very big victory. I hope it is a wake-up call to BCCI that women can play Test matches, and win Test matches,” Edulji told ESPNcricinfo. “Only three of the girls have played a Test match before. No country in this world of cricket, men or women, with eight debutants will win a Test against the No 1 team. England is a very professional side. Most of them have played Test matches. You take their combined XI Test matches against eight debutants… it is a great, great achievement.”
India were not only inexperienced, but had no relevant training, having played only Twenty20 internationals this year. Edulji, the country’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, said the victory had made it almost “mandatory” for the BCCI to include the longest format in the team’s calendar. “I would want one Test match to be played by the Indians for every series, in India and abroad. You don’t need to play seven one-dayers and three T20s. You can play a five-match or three-match series [of one-dayers] and one T20, and play a Test match in between.
“A Test is a must. It is mandatory now, I think. BCCI should make ICC put it in the calendar, even if it is just three countries – India, England and Australia. If the other countries do not want to play, fair enough, but when they come to India, they should play a Test. India should force their way in the ICC as they do in men’s cricket and have this calendar set that Indian women should play Tests. With this result, it should be a permanent fixture on our calendar.”
Edulji said that the media had also not given adequate coverage to the women’s team and wondered how much attention their win would generate. “It is for the press and the BCCI to take it from here. Let us see how much publicity we get tomorrow in the papers. Even then the front-page news will be for the bad bowling or bad batting performance of the Indian men. And we will maybe find a paragraph or something. It is really sad that the women are not given their due,” she told Cricinfo.
Edulji also wants the media to cover women’s cricket more, saying the press had a “very big role” to play in promoting the game, like it had been able to do for other sports. “At least it will shake them up that the girls are getting publicity, the press is involved, the press is looking at everything. Any sport you see, any federation wakes up when the press is at their necks. Then they start functioning properly. This is the problem with India. You see the Commonwealth Games, you see the Asian Games. When the press is there, everybody falls in line. Anything is quoted, so everybody is on their best behaviour.
“It is for the publicity of the game. More girls have to come out to play cricket. Why did badminton pick up so well? Why did athletics pick up so well? It is the publicity they got on television. Why could this match not be televised? Only online scoring was available. I was following the match that way.”
(The article was first published in DNA)