In a country where Cricket is the heartbeat of each person, young and old, where one of the strongest men’s cricket team resides and where the most powerful cricket board is, it is sad to see women’s cricket declining so rapidly. And there can’t be anyone else to blame but the BCCI. In India, in every nook and corner, in every open space and “maidan” you find, you’ll see children, teenagers and even adults playing Cricket. In India, it is boasted that women have equality in every aspect and field. Then why is the Women’s Cricket Team of India getting treated so badly?
Ever since the Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) has collaborated with the BCCI, the matches and series which the team play have reduced considerably. Diana Edulji, former Captain of the Indian women’s team, said in February 2013, during the Women’s Cricket World Cup, “Till Mr. Sharad Pawar was there at BCCI there was no problem. He was the only supporting grace for us. What women’s cricket is today is due to Mr. Pawar. The moment he moved out of BCCI, the treatment completely changed. They are not allowing us to play Test cricket, which is the worst thing that can happen to any cricketer. That is the most important aspect of cricket. The longer version has to be played,”. Clare Conner, the ICC women’s committee chairman and former England Women’s captain, also blamed the BCCI for India’s poor showing at the Women’s WC and felt that BCCI should’ve offered more support to the team. The WCAI thought that by joining hands with the BCCI, women’s cricket in India would get more support but who knew it would take a turn for the worse?
In August 2012, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced central contracts for 17 women cricketers. A country where there are restrictions against women playing took a big step forward and gave one year contracts to their women players. If the PCB could do it, why couldn’t the BCCI give central contracts to their women players? Recently, it came to light that the New Zealand Cricket board has given maiden professional contracts to 4 of their women players, namely Captain Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Sian Ruck and Sara McGlashan. Not only PCB and NZC, but even the boards of England, Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies have awarded central contracts to their core players. If these boards can take such a step, why can’t the BCCI? The BCCI has always given a lot of support to the Men’s Cricket Team and rightly so, we have seen then win the 2007 T20 WC and the 2011 WC. They have all the facilities and conveniences. But the Women’s Team’s poor showing at the recent Women’s Cricket World Cup in February 2013 proved that they aren’t getting the right support a team should deserve.
The Women’s Team has various talented players which aren’t getting the credit they deserve. The Captain, Mithali Raj, who is ranked No.1 in the Women’s ODI Batsmen’s ratings, is one of the classiest and elegant batsman India has seen. She has always been a consistent player for India and a great leader. Harmanpreet Kaur, her deputy, is the hard-hitter of the team. She can send the ball over the fence plenty of times and even sent the ball screaming into the stands once. But these two are hardly credited for their hard work and talent. Jhulan Goswami is the best fast-bowler of India and even has a national award to her name. But, despite all these, because of no professional contracts, none of the three are financially supported, due to which they cannot concentrate wholly on Cricket. Despite being the most powerful cricket board, if the BCCI cannot grant central contracts to their key players, it is a very shameful thing.
In the recent Women’s World Cup, it was conducted in India as a step to show that India supports Women’s Cricket and to increase the popularity of Women’s Cricket in India. But the idea backfired. Even though the entry fees to watch the matches were free, very few people made their presence felt. Was it again the BCCI’s fault? Some may say yes, some may say no. The former is more factual as the BCCI has never promoted Women’s Cricket in India or for that fact, the Women’s Indian Team itself, in any way. After seeing the extent to which they go to support and promote the Men’s Team, don’t you think that the women’s team should also get at least half of that support? None of the players are recognized and are just a shadow in the background. Not many people know that the Indian Women’s Team beat Bangladesh Women’s Team 2-0 and 3-0 in the T20 and ODI series respectively in the recently concluded Bangladesh Women Tour of India Women. Why don’t people know? That’s because the BCCI once again failed to give importance to it.
With all the reasons stating the obvious, it’s safe to say that BCCI, if not fully, is at the most partially to blame for the decline of Women’s Cricket in India. To ensure that women’s cricket doesn’t fade away in India, the least the BCCI can do is provide professional contracts to their key players and lend facilities and support that the Women are worthy of.