Matches and records are coming fast and fast for the Indian women’s cricket team on tour in Australia. On September 26, Mithali Raj and Co withdrew theirs the biggest chase ever break Australia’s world record streak of 26 games ODI wins. Four days later, starting September 30, he will play his first day / night test.
A frantic scheduling would make uninformed feelings that the women’s team has too much cricket on hand. Any such assumption is far from a dark reality. The current task of Down Under is only the second away game for India since they played in the T20 World Cup final on March 8, 2020.
After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the men’s team participated in a full-fledged IPL, toured Australia and hosted England, while their female colleagues – such as Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana – sat at home waiting for the international cricket resume. Their first match in 2021 followed 364 days after that World Cup final.
In those 364 days, Indian cricketers witnessed their peers from Australia, England, New Zealand, the West Indies, Pakistan and South Africa take the field, while players belonging to the world’s richest cricket board – the Board of Control for Cricket in India – continue to play the waiting game.
Still, this team always gives the best steps forward every time the opportunity arises. In the English yard they fought tooth and nail draw your first test match since 2014. They lost the ODI and T20I 1-2 series.
They started the recently concluded ODI series with a heavy defeat by the Aussies, but immediately returned to write a thriller for the last ball in the second match. India had control for most of the game after first scoring 274/7. The Australians were reduced to 54/4 in one phase, but India let the game slip out of their hands with inexperience that came to the fore. Inexperience of playing under lights. Inexperience of playing with dew around. Inexperience of playing in an espresso pot.
In the end, missed half-chances, bad pitches and throws brought the game to Australia, which needed 13 from the last senior trip. Once again the players in the field were under pressure, they made mistakes and thanks to the late no ball, Australia has secured five gates to win.
The series continued, to be interrupted in the next match. After bowling without a ball, Goswami redeemed herself by hitting the winning six in the final of the third match.
Just to give more context. Australia is a record six-time ODI champion. They also have five world T20 titles in their cabinet. England have four ODIs and one T20 World Cup in their name. Yet India has almost pitted itself against the two biggest teams in world cricket. But there is a difference between close defeats and consistent victories. Old-fashioned hitting, lack of bowling opportunities, bad terrain are mostly gaps that India needs to bridge in order to be on par with Australia and England.
But how do you do that?
One thing common to both Australia and England is the professional T20 league. Cricket Australia launched the Women’s Big Bash League with eight teams in 2015 and since then the T20 competition has intensified. The England and Wales Cricket Authority launched the Kia Super League with six teams in 2016 and has now been replaced by The Hundred with eight teams.
As women’s cricket becomes increasingly competitive, Australia and England have remained ahead of the curve thanks to a large number of players ready for international competition, as a result of professional T20 competitions. The opportunity to play in the best stadiums, with the best players, in front of a crowded audience with many others watching it on television seems like the perfect recipe for preparing home players for the great opportunity of international cricket.
Said Australian Megan Schutt, 3rd World ODI and T20 bowler Guard last year: “I no longer see the WBBL just as a domestic cricket tournament. It is the future of our game. It is a place where we attract children, nurture them, offer them opportunities to play either for fun or for competition and develop women’s cricket for generations to come . “
WBBL players 18-year-old Darcie Brown and 19-year-old Hannah Darlington recently embarked on international cricket like a duck in the water.
Similarly, the impact of the Indian Premier League on Indian men’s cricket has been manifold, but most importantly it has aligned itself with India’s rise as arguably the best team in the world. BCCI’s selection of an Indian team for a recent tour of Sri Lanka when one senior team was already camping in England would not have been possible without the IPL. A lot of players from that Indian team for the Sri Lanka tour are now in the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
For women cricketers, BCCI hosts only an exhibition event – the Women’s T20 Challenge – consisting of three teams during the IPL. The women’s T20 Challenge has not been held in 2021 so far. While Australia and England continue to grow against the backdrop of their T20 leagues, India is a loss for not having a full-fledged IPL for women cricketers.
The ongoing tour of Australia is the last scheduled task of the women’s team before the 2022 ODI World Cup starting on March 4th. It’s no secret that India still has a lot of areas to work on – from improving the strike rate to finding a stable middle ground and bowling options. Just imagine what India could have got if there was an IPL for women cricketers.
Also, given the financial strength of the BCCI, there is really no logical reason not to launch a female IPL immediately, especially at a time when the board is working to expand the male IPL with eye on revenue.
For those who feel that India lacks the necessary depth in number and quality to have a full-fledged IPL, the appearance of debutants Yastika Bhatie, Meghne Singh and Rich Ghosha during the Australian ODI should serve as a reminder.
India’s performance in the 2017 ODI World Cup final has incorporated women’s cricket into the minds of cricket fans in the country. But if BCCI and India aim to win the World Cup, the women’s IPL will greatly help them in that process.