Women in Blue need utmost care and support
Over 200 years have passed since India was first introduced to the beautiful game of cricket by the European merchant sailors. By the time India played its first official game in 1932, the sport had already widened its reach in the Indian European Colonies.
They say, it takes time for the dust to settle down and the game of cricket slowly but steadily have settled deep into the Indian culture in the last 86 years. British rebellion, Independence Movement, Nehru-Gandhi family-led government, Emergency in 1975, 1991 Economic Crisis and countless revolutions shattered India during this period yet Cricket was untouched of all. It was just flourishing in every nook and corner of the nation despite all the hiatus it faced.
Amidst the clamour of #MeToo Movement across the globe which has given wings to women’s liberation at the workplace, made women to coming out of the social taboo and revealing what was supposed to be buried with them, gave voice or sense of empowerment to the thousands of women to stand against the unjust.
Our Indian women cricket team are somehow exhibiting their talent amidst the male-dominated cricket fraternity, inviting women to candidly support their struggle to the top. They are showing that they, too, exist.
For all these years in the male chauvinist sport, their counterpart females were hardly perceived with the same eye. Despite the support of the richest cricket board on the planet - BCCI, and excellent performances in the 2017 World Cup, Indian Women's Cricket is still struggling to find its feet in the Indian cricketing ecosystem.
In the nation where festivals are celebrated around the year with immense gusto and enthusiasm, only cricket come close to that. Cricket is deep rooted in Indian culture. Here, a newborn baby is introduced to bat & ball before his first walk. Every child carries a dream to done blue colours. Cricket holds a sacred place in innumerable hearts. Cricketers are valued over doctors and engineers. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari or Porbandar to Silchar across the cultures we wholeheartedly breathe cricket.
Despite such madness over cricket, there are certain questions which keep surfacing in the mind quite often: Why are we not encouraging the Women's Cricket? Why Cricket devotees are not turning out in Stadiums?? Are Women not capable of producing nail-biting finishes?? Things are changing they say, But Why the buzz before the biggest cricketing carnival in the world “2018 ICC Women’s World T20” can’t be heard???
The latest World T20 advertisement on TV is a beautiful example of how women's cricket shall be promoted among Indian families. From parents to society our support is imperative for the growth of women'c cricket. "Jab Inka balla Bolega to Puri duniya Sunegi" (The World will listen, when their bat will do the talking).
Women's Cricket has been around us for almost 42 years and have produced some majestic players like Diana Edulji, Neetu David, Shantha Rangaswamy, Anjum Chopra and many more, yet we hardly mention their names in our talks as we do of Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Polly Umrigar etc. While they all have the same thing in common we shall carry the same respect for both.
The Men’s Hockey World Cup is about to kick off at the end of November and the state government, not the central body is leaving no stone unturned in making the mega-event a huge success. “100 days campaign”, “Heartbeats for hockey”, Plantation drive to remember the World Cup as a Green International Sports Event, “Odisha Tourism Campaign” and several other promotional activities have been rolled out in media to spread the awareness.
ICC’s commitment towards development of the game can be witnessed through the steps like increment in prize pool, organizing “Standalone ICC Women’s World T20” unlike under the shadow of Men’s competition earlier, Live Broadcast, releasing a couple of TV advertisements and inviting the legends for commentary to draw more supporters to the game.
Stupendous performance in the 2017 Women’s World Cup was the major step towards a definite change in perception. BCCI leap at the opportunity distributed central contracts to the women players, introduced BCCI Awards, changed in administration, increased playing days, hike in remuneration for domestic players and several other initiatives to encourage women’s cricket.
In reality, over the last one and a half year, many reforms have been brought in the system and gradual change in perception have also noticed. Women cricketers are no more need to run for money since the contracts have been introduced. But a diligent fan following needs to be in place for the Indian Eves, they deserve it.
Women's cricket needs utmost care and dedicated support from the cricket bodies as well as from the millions of die-hard cricket fans. Like spectators showered their love in lord's during 2017 ICC World Cup finals and over 2,400 women joined hands and stood around the cricket ground during the lunch hour to spread awareness about women’s empowerment and breast cancer in India-Australia ODIs such sweet gestures have the power to turn the things around for Women's Cricket.
Under the beats of Calypso, hot and sunny weather of Caribbean lands ICC Women’s World T20 will be a sight to compare to with.
Women’s cricket definitely has a huge task ahead.