How Women’s Cricket in India is finally getting the long-standing due it deserved
Women’s Cricket in India: Time and tide wait for none and most certainly don’t for change when it strikes. And that said, where change is concerned- then a bright one has just struck the horizon of Women’s cricket in India. Finally! Women’s Cricket is finally getting the not ‘athe’ due!
But before we dive into that, here’s digging deep into a truth surrounding Women’s cricket that can no longer be cast a blind eye to:
Every time we downplay women cricketers, we actually downplay the game itself.
Not that this is a needless rabble rousing call; undermining Women’s game has been the common mantra of Cricket in the contemporary age.
Can’t bowl, can’t field, certainly can’t take diving catches and may not be able to concentrate akin to the menfolk for long periods of time have been the commonly deployed tools to underrate Women’s cricket.
Just that game after game, year after year, series upon series the women kept busting common myths surrounding their sport thanks to an avalanche of inspiring performances so common of lately that Sachin to Lara, Kohli to AB, Border to Gavaskar all would be proud. And they most certainly are.
Starting with the 2017 ICC Women’s ODI World Cup, where Mignon du Preez perhaps played her most valiant knock in the recent times (a solo heroic against England, South Africa’s eventual whippers) and where Anya Shrubsole took swing bowling to a different level altogether, Harmanpreet sizzled and with her, sizzled the mother of all ODI battles in the women’s game.
Her extraordinary, awe inspiring 171 against the Australians was perhaps the finest example of women hitting the white ball a country mile and sending bowlers on a leather hunt.
Kaur’s blazing century ruptured the bias surrounding Women’s cricket and perhaps stirred the most vital debate that we’d chanced upon: was Women’s cricket rising and could it be subdued anymore?
And while massive eyeballs rested on that truly unforgettable India versus Aussies contest, the magnificent final, a nail biter between India and England catapulted Women’s cricket to a level hitherto felt or experienced.
Just when we thought that that was it and that Women’s cricket couldn’t have peaked further, along came the T20 World Cup in 2020 at Australia right ahead of the global pandemic.
With its successful inception, which ultimately unfurled Australia’s mega triumph, though not for the first time, one thing became widely clear.
And it was that the Waugh’s army of the late nineties and mid 2000’s weren’t the only invincible team in the sport loved by several around the world.
Truth was that Meg Lanning’s Aussie women were the nadir of other forces in the sport, regardless of whether one spoke of a Bates and Devine-powered White Ferns, Mithali and Jhulan-powered India, Taylor and Dottin-led Windies women or Mir, Abidi, and Javeria-powered Pakistan.
Whether it was the outstanding glovework thanks to the exploits of legend Alyssa Healy, the rising force called Richa Ghosh or the lightening fast reflexes of Sarah Taylor or the piercing pace of Shabnim Ismail or the thumping speed of Issy Wong, Women’s cricket was rising and its enchanting could no longer be chided.
Today, when one talks about the cover drive, probably the fanboy may only concern himself with greats Kohli and Babar as if to say that a Shai Hope, KL Rahul and a certain Laura Wolvaardt don’t play it at all.
Likewise, when one speaks of sheer brilliance with the bat, one doesn’t only spend endless minutes appreciating Rohit or Rizwan, Root or Williamson; one also speaks about the contribution of Lizelle Lee, Amelia Kerr and the inimitables- Chamari Athapathuthu and Smriti Mandhana.
Then there’s the likes of Chantham, whose beautiful batting swung the tide towards her Thailand against Pakistan recently!
You’ve got the Kallis’ and the Flintoff’s in the men’s game and where it concerns Women’s cricket, you cannot simply ignore a Marizanne Kapp or an Amelia Kerr.
Everything that the men can do in the gentleman’s game, the women can do too, albeit with both – grace as well as a dash of power.
All of these have perhaps rightly swung towards Women’s cricket one of the most exceptional and special moments, one that just hours ago, catapulted India to the attention of a globe trotting cricket obsessed audience.
Truth be told, when on October 27, 2022, the respected Secretary-General, BCCI, Mr Jay Shah announced that nationally contracted Women’s cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts, the revered cricket board didn’t only spark a landmark moment for Indian athletes; rather, it spurred Women’s international cricket to another level.
The @BCCIWomen cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts. Test (INR 15 lakhs), ODI (INR 6 lakhs), T20I (INR 3 lakhs). Pay equity was my commitment to our women cricketers and I thank the Apex Council for their support. Jai Hind 🇮🇳— Jay Shah (@JayShah) October 27, 2022
In so doing, Women’s Cricket in India have, quite simply blazed a trail for the others to follow.
Indian women will now finally be paid handsomely and fairly but that’s after decades of waiting the patient game in the sidelines whilst much of the attention in some regard rested, often exclusively, with men.
Moreover, courtesy this move, the BCCI have finally fostered a change that was long overdue. Foster a culture of change that must affect the dynamics of Cricket.
That it can no longer remain at the mercy of the exploits of the men’s game’s alone and that, thanks to the awesome feats of women cricketers, think Mir, Goswami, Dar, Aguilleira, Dottin, Taylor, Bates, Brunt, Sashikala, Du Preez, Van Niekerk, amongst many others, women’s cricket is perhaps at its finest hour.
One is glad that change we thought we knew about albeit only just has greeted us with a peaceful arrival of sorts.
How beautiful yet at the same time, surprising is that the very country in which women don’t often feel safe is the one whose example is going to be given on how to make Women’s cricket work.
That said, think about this. Talent was never a problem for India whilst it being rewarded for what it truly warranted may have been the case.
But now with Mr. Jay Shah (excitingly) sharing the latest ruling that both women and men will be paid equally has sort of paved way for bright change to hit the Indian sub-continent.
It, much like the delivery of a parcel one desperately sought for weeks together, is a reminder that with times, things change and often, for the best. Women’s Cricket in India!
Isn’t that right, ladies?