It’s Not Going to Be Just One Gender Playing Cricket: Anjum Chopra

Anjum Chopra talks about the BCCI’s handling of the women’s cricket team who have not played one match in 10 months.

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Cricket
3 min read

The Indian women’s cricket team has not played a single international match since the final of the T20 World Cup in 2020.

From the unprecedented highs of playing a World Cup final to the lows of going cricketless for almost a year – one need not ask too many questions to know who is responsible for the poor treatment of India’s female stars.

While the BCCI successfully hosted a 2-month IPL in the UAE and is now getting ready to host England’s men’s cricket team for a two-month tour, there is still no word on when India’s women’s cricket team will next get to wear their national jerseys.

Former India captain Anjum Chopra spoke to The Quint on the matter and said, “We are hoping there is light at the end of this tunnel but this tunnel is very, very long.”

Anjum, as a former cricketer who has seen Indian women’s cricket reach such great highs recently, what do you make of the team not playing an international match in almost a year?

It’s not a good or a healthy sign for the Indian women’s cricket team. Most of the women’s teams across the world have gone back to the game. The Bangladesh women’s team is also back in a camp, England has announced their domestic T20 competition, and Australia played their Women’s Big Bash league. Everyone is playing but the Indian team has been kept waiting. When is their international, or even a domestic tournament, going to take place?

Would you say the intent from the BCCI is missing? Even in summer when England asked to host India and South Africa in a tri-series and take care of everything, the BCCI refused. So, they’re not allowing others to host our team and they’re clearly not organising anything. What do you make of that?

That’s actually surprising because BCCI has in the past done a lot for the team. But, somewhere down the line you feel something is amiss. What is the trouble in organising women’s cricket? When men’s matches are being organised and structured from one tournament to the other, I’m sure it can be done for the women’s games as well. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all under the same flagship cricket board. It’s very concerning and, kind of, a difficult situation to understand what’s happening.

The Indian team were on a massive high after the final on 8 March 2020. The viewership of the final against Australia broke records but now, 10 months later, there’s nothing. Is it too late to even ask if the momentum they had built has been lost?

Absolutely, let’s not go too far behind. In the Women’s T20 Challenge tournament played in the UAE, one could clearly see that the intent (to do well), but there was a lack of co-ordination. After completing a home quarantine or a long lay-off, being quarantined again in the UAE and then playing a tournament takes time to get back to the game.

If you fast-track the process and then come to a halt, this halt then keeps extending further. It’s not just a month or two. You’re hoping to see a light at the end of this tunnel but the tunnel is very long...very, very long.

Your generation of cricketers saw the transition of women’s cricket coming under the aegis of the BCCI. However, would you say it is time that women’s cricket now has at least a separate committee in the board looking after it?

Yes, absolutely. I think it will augur for that and I do feel that kind of a committee should be there. There was a women’s cricket committee earlier but I don’t know what the structure is like currently, since there’s been a bit of thinning at the top. There needs to be a women’s committee and I strongly feel that if there’s one person who is handling all the cricket, then it might work.

But if there’s a men’s cricket committee then there should be a women’s committee as well, because the sport needs to grow and it can’t be just a ‘pass-on’ or an ‘add-on’ thing. If you keep treating women’s sport in India as an add-on feature, then we’re not taking rapid strides towards a very successful nation. Then, we’re moving very slowly, and we all know that if we move slowly, the competition is going to catch up sooner or later.

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