Why BCCI’s Handling of the Women’s Cricket Team is Empty Tokenism
The BCCI has simply made no move to get India’s women’s cricket team back on the field.
Camera: Athar Rather
Edited by Mohd Irshad Alam
Cricket in the time of a pandemic. It was going to be tough to pull off but the BCCI showed the way forward, by successfully hosting an eight-team tournament, across 2 months, that too on foreign shores.
The IPL was a big hit and now, Indian cricketers are in Australia – and are almost done with that tour too.
India’s male cricketers. Because India’s female cricketers have an entirely and extremely different story.
Remember the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia where the India’s women’s team reached the final and had us hooked onto TV screens? Well, that match... that final on 8 March 2020 is also the last time Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Shafali Verma, and Jemimah Rodrigues got to wear their national jersey.
Because, since then, and it’s been 10 months now, all their international outings have been cancelled or postponed and the biggest event they have managed to play in, is an ongoing local club tournament in Bangalore because, let's be honest, the BCCI’s four-match Women’s T20 Challenge can’t really qualify as a tournament, can it?
Tokenism at best is what the 'Women’s IPL’ that was played during the men’s IPL in November, can be called.
Because what else will you call BCCI’s six-day event that had three teams play a total of four matches to decide a winner?
And, what’s worse, the dates clashed with the women’s big bash in Australia- a legit five-week tournament that no Indian cricketer could then play, because BCCI is boss.
Just like BCCI was boss when they decided to not allow the women’s team to travel to England for a triangular series involving South Africa in August. The ECB had shown in the summer that a bio-bubble was easy for them to handle and even after offering to provide quarantining and training facilities – like they did for the Pakistan men’s team – the BCCI elected to have the women’s team stay home, instead of playing an international series.
Months later, the team is yet to play on the big stage and the latest news is the postponement of their tour of Australia, that was slated for January 2021. So, if the talks around a series against Sri Lanka in February don’t materialise, our women’s team’s next India outing will in fact be the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup in 2022!
Also, in no way is this a global phenomenon because just as the Indian men’s team prepare to host England across formats staring next month, the women’s teams from England, New Zealand, Australia, West Indies are actively playing international cricket. Our neighbours Pakistan, too, are touring South Africa this month!
But India? There isn’t even a national camp called so that the players can come together and train and work on their fitness or have inter squad matches. Nothing. Remember the 47 all out in the Women’s T20 Challenge? That is what happens when you put together an event in haste without allowing your players more than a week’s practice after months of home quarantine.
Is that what the BCCI is okay with?
Is the women’s team to accept whatever form of tokenism the Board has time to offer?
The team, as of right now, does not have a coach, a manager or even a physiotherapist because everyone’s contracts are over and there's been no move from the Board to extend the contracts or hire replacements!
And the trouble is not just for the Indian team players even India’s female domestic cricketers don’t know when they get to play cricket next.
Some have livelihoods dependent on it, some have careers they would have liked to build… but even as the BCCI has only now woken up and organised one men’s domestic tournament, there is no word whatsoever on the return of Indian women’s domestic cricket.
In fact, the Bangalore club cricket tournament that India’s best have resorted to playing in right now, has pretty much nothing to do with the BCCI and with the ODI World Cup in New Zealand next year.
The highs of Australia 2020 may not easily be replicated if the stars who helped India shine the brightest are forced to gather dust by the apathy of the individuals who lead the Board of Control for CRICKET in India. Not just men's international cricket.
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