India women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur feels that even though members of her team are getting aware of the importance of fitness, India’s domestic structure as far as cricket for women is concerned is not up to the standard of countries like England or Australia. Kaur, in fact, suggests India are a good five years behind but in all this, the good thing is that women’s cricket is beginning to gain a whole new level of popularity.

“Definitely we are five-six years behind them in these aspects. But now girls have understood their responsibility towards being fit. The players are getting more aware about being fit and following the right daily routines. The things we have grasped in last two-three years, England and Australia have been doing from long before,” Kaur told Mumbai Mirror.

“Earlier there used to be huge difference between a domestic player and what is expected at international level. But now some 30 girls are given individual programme by the BCCI. So when one of them is picked for India, she is not clueless of what is expected of her. As we keep improving our domestic level, the performances at international level will improve. That is why I said we are five-six years behind these teams because our domestic set-up is not as good as it should be.”

India have beaten comprehensively England and Australia, and despite the shortcomings that may persist, just playing against a top quality opponent, brings the best out of players, reckons the India captain.

“Just the fitness. In these two countries fitness is part of their culture. Unfortunately, in India we start these things late,” Kaur told The Week. “For the last three years the girls have been working hard on fitness. It does not improve overnight; we need to work on it for longer durations. Earlier, we would come close to these teams and lose, but now we are winning matches against them. Skill-wise we are better batters and bowlers than these two countries.”

Kaur has repeatedly highlighted spin to be India’s strength, but understands the team can do with a few good pace options. With Jhulan Goswami retired from T20Is and in the twilight of her ODI career, the likes of Shikha Pandey and Arundhati Reddy are promising youngsters and more time needs to be invested in them.

“We need to look at our strengths and weaknesses. At present, spin is our strength. Had we focused on grooming medium pacers a year or two back, we would not have had to depend so much on spin,” she said.

“We definitely need three medium pacers in the side. But we also need to see if they are good enough. We need to look more on the existing talent in the medium pace department. Hopefully in the next one or two years we will have them ready.”