Women's World T20 Controversy - A disservice to Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur
The very nature of Indian cricket is such that the millions of passionate followers of Indian cricket get swayed rather easily by both the cricketing and non-cricketing matters involving Indian cricketers. This is not unique to India as it’s true of football in many European countries or American football, basketball and baseball in the USA.
In the last couple of days, a lot has been and is still being, and from all indications, will continue to be, said and written about the ‘controversial’ exclusion of Mithali Raj from India’s playing eleven against England in the Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final.
From a purely cricketing point of view, this decision proved to be a disastrous one for India. However, captain Harmanpreet Kaur had her reasons. She believed in an attacking brand of cricket and considered Mithali Raj a bit too defensive-minded for her liking. Considering the nature of the pitch and the opposition bowling line up, this decision should be criticised and has had possibly more than its fair share, of criticism.
However, more than the cricketing reasons, it’s the conspiracy theories surrounding the decision which seem to have found a lot of traction in the media-fuelled imagination of Indian public. There have been all sorts of unsavoury comments about the Indian captain. The most recent and possibly the most circulated of those is the diatribe by Mithali Raj’s manager Annisha Gupta, where she has been extremely vitriolic, unbecoming of responsible and civilized behaviour.
Both Harmanpreet Kaur and Mithali Raj are not just two of the greatest Indian cricketers there have ever been, but also great ambassadors of the game. Thanks to their exceptional cricketing talent and off-court demeanour, they have put Indian women’s cricket firmly in the imagination of Indian public which till a few years ago knew very little of the existence of Indian women’s cricket.
In an ironic way, so much focus on the afore-mentioned controversy surrounding the two great cricketers also shows how women’s cricket has forced its place into media and drawing rooms. At a time like this when Indian women’s cricket needs further encouragement, too much focus on the diatribe of a nobody will do a great disservice to Indian women’s cricket, especially to two of the greatest icons to have emerged from the country.Published 24 Nov 2018, 16:53 IST