Mithali Raj welcomes change in outlook towards Women's Cricket
What's the story?
Indian Women's Cricket team skipper Mithali Raj is glad that the emergence of social media and the wide publicity her side garnered during the team's run to the final of the World Cup earlier this year in England has changed the way India looks at the women's side.
India's most prolific player ever, Mithali recalled her early days as an Under-16 and Under-19 player when she had to travel in unreserved coaches and stay in hostels but is hopeful that such days are a thing of the past and that future women cricketers are treated better.
Speaking after being felicitated by the Ficci Ladies Organisation (FLO), the 34-year-old compared how times have changed since the 2005 Women's World Cup when the Indian side made their way to the final for the first time ever.
"In 2005, there was not much coverage and no live telecast of our matches. We don't have any videos of those games. We only have with us the experience of our journey in 2005," Mithali said.
"This year, the wide publicity on social media and live television coverage of ICC World Cup has changed dynamics of women's cricket in India. The visibility in this World Cup was immense. We got more followers. We couldn't get this momentum earlier," she added.
In case you didn't know...
The Indian women's team led by Mithali Raj enjoyed a memorable run at the 2017 World Cup where they made their way to the summit clash where they lost to hosts England in dramatic fashion.
Not the ideal result in the end but the team's dream run drew much attention as fans worldwide followed the women's side in a manner similar to the men's team.
The heart of the matter
India's progress to the final in 2017 was least expected especially after the team had failed to progress beyond the group stages in the previous edition hosted by India in 2013.
Matches being televised and the advent of social media meant that the 2017 edition proved to be a turning point for the Women's side with the mass following they generated during the course of the tournament.
Mithali is hopeful that the buzz continues but added that it is still a struggle for emerging sportspersons in India to make a name for themselves on their own unlike somewhere like the United States where the government lends a helping hand to their development.
Despite the growing popularity of women's cricket in India post the 2017 World Cup, the team has not played since the end of the tournament with their next international assignment slated to be their tour to South Africa early next year.
The proposed idea of a Women's IPL was also shelved amidst doubts over its success and sustainability.
There is no doubt that the women's game has undergone a sea change since its early days of struggle. The likes of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami has inspired a number of women cricketers to take up the game seriously and the results have shown.
It is imperative that Indian cricket fans lend their support to the women's game as well and help sustain the momentum that has been gained by the team's recent success.