Shantha Rangaswamy became the first-ever recipient of the honour which was introduced by the Committee of Administrators (COA) . Photo Courtesy: Shantha Rangaswamy Facebook Page
Shantha Rangaswamy became the first-ever recipient of the honour which was introduced by the Committee of Administrators (COA). Photo Courtesy: Shantha Rangaswamy Facebook Page

India’s first-ever Women’s team captain Shantha Rangaswamy delivered an emotional speech after she was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Shantha became the first-ever recipient of the honour which was introduced by the Committee of Administrators (COA), appointed recently by the Supreme Court of India. In her emotional speech, Shantha recalled several hardships which the Indian women cricketers faced for close to two decades, and also her meeting with the former Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi. Here is the full transcript of her emotional speech that tells us how far India’s women’s cricket has come:

“I would like to thank BCCI, CEO Professor Shetty, Dr Sriram and most importantly the committee of administrators and the committee that decided this. Thank you. It is the first time that a lady cricketer is getting this and I know it won’t be the last time because now that it has started, the momentum should take it forward.

Yes, Farokh was talking about how passionate the game was to them and that they were paid INR 250 a day. Well, that was a fortune for us because till day I have never been paid (like most women cricketers). I started in 1973, stopped playing in 1994 and I never got paid for anything. That is the passion that we carried. But… we travelled by unreserved second class, staying in dormitories, playing on rough terrain batting wickets, all that I think is a thing of past. Since after 1991, things really moved forward.

After 2006 when BCCI took over, I think things have really started improving but I demand a little more. In the sense they need to play little more domestic tournaments and even international matches. I feel, as of now, is inadequate and I think with central contacts coming into play, for women’s cricketers also. I think that is a big boost shot in arm for women’s cricket. I am positive that BCCI will take it forward to the logical conclusion.

After 1977, when we started off, we realised that if we did not perform, the game would perish. The longevity of this game was in the hands of the founding members. founding mother, pioneers… call it whatever you want.  We all took that responsibility. Let me tell you, we did exceedingly well in international cricket which I think ensured the longevity of the game.

I know, Virat and others boast because their prolific scores are known to everyone. But here, there is a case. I would like to dedicate this to all the pioneers, the women cricketers who played from 1973 to 2006, when BCCI took over. This award is for all of them. After 1977 till 1984, when we were in our prime, peaking… no international series. Again after 1986 till 1991… nothing.

So in 22 odd years, 12 years down the drain because change of office bearers in the Women’s Cricket Association of India and the then secretary in 1988 had a fight with the then Sports Minister. So we were refused. The entry was not sent. So we all went.

The entire team met the then Prime Minister. He said nothing doing, you will go. But unfortunately we couldn’t because even though the government said they will sponsor us, the Australian Cricket Board said… at that time Cricket Australia was not there, the women’s board said sorry. At last minute, we can’t make arrangements, we have to make everywhere and we can’t accommodate you. So that’s how we went… regularly meeting Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi because those times we were playing regular the series. But unfortunately after that I don’t think our team met any Prime Minister.”