A look at the state of women’s cricket in India

Gayathri Gopakumar

Former Indian President Pratibha Patil presents the Arjuna Award for the year 2010 to Indian fast bowling all-rounder Jhulan Goswami during a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on August 29, 2010.

Cricket has always been a male-dominated sport. Without a doubt, every one of us has heard about the leading male Indian cricketers, and listing down the entire squad will be a piece of cake for the cricket fans. The question now, though, is how many of us are even aware of who’s captaining Indian women’s cricket team? Is it fair that a team of different sex representing the same nation doesn’t get the media’s or rather anyone’s attention? This has been a recurring factor over the years, with many talents going down the drain unnoticed. Contrary to how it was years before, the women have now started to take it up seriously, but what seems to be missing is the awareness of the scope and professionalism there is to this game for them.

Talking about the current participation of women in the sport, C.V. Swetha, an India Green player (Challengers Trophy) says, “Previously, approximately 50 girls would turn up for state selection processes, but now 130-140 girls show up for state selections. This is a very promising change. Almost every college has its own team, which is a good sign.”

All right, the numbers are going up, but what about the quality? Do these women play standard cricket? R. Arti, the selector for Tamil Nadu women’s team says, “It depends on how you see it. When I began playing, there were very few women who could play standard cricket. If you view it that way, then, of course, the quality we have has improved quite a lot. I feel there is always scope for betterment, though. For example, if 120 women come for selection, around 60 can play professional cricket. Rest are still basic learners.”

Speaking on the awareness of the sport, D. Hemalatha, the Tamil Nadu vice-captain says, “Most colleges have their own cricket team. They play for their college, probably for university and then move on. Of late, many schools have started cricket coaching for girls during the summer break. This will increase awareness of the sport. Newspapers carry our names and performances, which will again boost the awareness.”

The lack of awareness is mainly because of the reluctance of girls to take up the game. The unwillingness is primarily due to the discrimination at home or on the ground. According to Swetha, there is a lot of discrimination involved in cricket: “We play at the same level as men do, but still look at the difference in treatment.”

Quoting her own experience, she adds, “During our practice match sessions, we bowl to the guys, and immediately they become very cautious because they feel its an insult if a girls makes them out. All this is because the underestimation of women is still there among men. There is this mental block that we simply cannot play well. This thought has to be completely eradicated; only then will women be motivated to bring out their talents that in turn can bring laurels to the country, thereby giving it the necessary attention.”

Asked about the support provided by the government, Hema says, “Previously, it used to be private where in the players themselves pool in money for our tournaments, but now the BCCI has taken over. We have the same facilities that men have, too. We travel by flights, stay at star hotels, wear good jerseys, get personalized trainers, etc.”

When quizzed about the facilities provided by the TNCA, though, Swetha says, “I cannot say it’s satisfactory. There is so much scope for improvement. I think they can start by providing a separate ground for us to practice.”

Talking about the future of women’s cricket, she said, “So many schools have introduced cricket coaching for girls and so have coaching academies. Through this initiative, they play a lot of practice matches and gain the experience and exposure. So, finally, state selection will turn out to be very competitive and hard.”

She concluded by saying, “I hope to see women’s cricket on par with men’s cricket. More importantly, more companies should come forward to recruit in sports quota. Right now, all we have is Southern Railways and Indian Railways. I hope to see more employment opportunities”.

Originally published on Sportskeeda.com here

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