Time has come to give women cricketers their due credit and plaudits
The splendid victory of the Indian women's cricket team in the 1st ODI of a 3-match series hardly found any media or fan coverage.
2017 was a watershed year in more ways than one. The #MeToo movement opened up our eyes and made us men realize how we have failed our womenfolk since immemorial generations gone by. The topics of gender inequality, women’s empowerment and equal pay have been fiercely debated in the corporate and socio-economic environments.
When it comes to sport, not much is different, where men have always been historically paid more and given more recognition across all sporting fields be it tennis, athletics or even cricket. In that light, one felt that the 2017 Women’s World Cup was yet another watershed moment when for the first time, the event was a televised global success with unprecedented TRP ratings. Led by the performance of our champion women cricketers, the ensuing traditional and social media coverage also generated a lot of hype, curiosity and interest for the women’s game. This unprecedented success lent credence to the fact that maybe women’s cricket would now have a following at par with men’s international cricket.
Closer home, the Indian women’s team performed remarkably well to reach the finals of the tournament but fell agonizingly short of the title. However, they won the hearts and imaginations of the people and emerged as champions no less in the process. Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana, Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur, just to name a few, became household names and there was a ray of hope that our women cricketers would finally be getting their due.
India is a land of fanatics, where the sport of cricket is treated like a religion and our leading men cricketers are given the status of Gods. Ironically for a country that is revered as “Bharat Mata” and where one of our leading deities is “Durga Ma”, not much respect and importance is given to the women in our country, owing to centuries of patriarchal and misogynistic beliefs and culture. In a nation obsessed with “fair skin”, where a girl child is often treated as a liability and are often raised with a sole intent to get them married off, and with a belief that a woman’s place is in the kitchen; our women cricketers have already won numerous battles to fight stereotypes and popular culture to reach the zenith of playing for the country.
In an era, where the men’s cricket team is often heard complaining of a packed playing schedule with little room for rest and recovery, it is absolutely incredulous that the Indian women’s cricket team did not even have a single international game scheduled by the BCCI 7 months after their fabulous World Cup performance!
After such a long gap, the Indian women’s cricket team has been tasked with touring South Africa for a 3 match ODI series. South Africa is not the easiest of places to tour and the men’s cricket team is yet to win a series (Test or One-Day) after more than 25 years of trying unsuccessfully. Yet, our women’s cricket team simply shook off the rustiness from non-playing and returned with a champion performance after the first ODI, where they comfortably defeated South Africa by 88 runs, dominated by Smriti Mandhana’s masterful knock of 84 runs and Jhulan Goswami’s 4 wicket haul.
While the men’s cricket team spearheaded by Virat Kohli’s aggressive, unrelenting captaincy deserves all the praise in the world for taking a 2-0 lead in the 6 match men’s ODI series, so do our champion women’s cricket team for their sublime victory in the 1st ODI of a 3 match series. Yet..Where are the plaudits? Where is the media coverage? Where is the recognition?
It is time for us to celebrate the women’s cricket team just like we celebrate our men’s cricket team. Let us show our support and hope the women’s team emerges victorious in this tricky South African test. Cheers to the women’s cricket team and congratulations on a fabulous win! Here’s to more such laurels and much deserved praise and recognition!