Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Cameraperson: Athar Rather
7 March 2021. Save the date!
Because after an entire three hundred and sixty-four days, the Indian women’s cricket team will be playing an international match.
Yes, the stars have finally aligned, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finally woken up to make sure they get back on the field just one day short of an entire year, since they played the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Although, before we say our thank yous, a quick reminder than India are getting back on the field almost six months after international women’s cricket restarted following the COVID-19 lockdowns. England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, and Zimbabwe – all have played matches. Whereas, the BCCI has waited to make it to almost an entire year before they got their act together.
And it’s not that the BCCI could not hold a tournament because it was over six months back that they restarted men’s cricket with the IPL. A tournament comprising eight teams of almost 25 players each, stretching across two months and that too in the UAE! But they couldn’t send the women’s team to England, even when the ECB volunteered to take care of all logistical concerns.
But yes, der aaye durust aaye… and all that right?
Jitna mile, utne mein khush.
Be grateful with what you get, right?
Surely, the team that was runners-up in the last ODI and the T20 World Cup should be grateful that the momentum they had gathered with their fantastic performances, that even saw a record-breaking viewership of the final against Australia – with 92 lakh Indians watching the match – that had 16-year-old Shafali Verma finish the tournament as India’s highest scorer and hold the joint record for the most sixes in the tournament, or that had Poonam Yadav finish as the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker, and that saw keeper Taniya Bhatia affect the most dismissals from behind the stumps.
Yes, all the women, their captains, and their teammates should be grateful that after reaching the absolute peak of their careers, their home board let them down and returned them to the shadows. The same board that’s led by a former Indian men’s captain that single-handedly undid what women’s cricket in India had for decades dreamed of.
But that’s okay, they’re returning to the field, aren’t they? Lots to be grateful for. Like the groundbreaking move of announcing the squads for the home series against South Africa, after the team had landed in Lucknow and were in quarantine!
That’s also okay, lots to be grateful for… like the unexplained omissions of Shikha Pandey and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia from the squads for the South Africa series. Pandey was India’s second-highest wicket-taker in the T20 World Cup in 2020, and Bhatia was the tournament’s, well, best-wicket keeper in terms of dismissals. But after waiting a year to play again, both have been dropped with no word from the BCCI, to us at least about just why that has s happened.
Still, lots to be grateful for. Even if it has been a year – the women return for eight whole matches – with a five-match ODI and a three-match T20I series against South Africa.
So yes, WE have a lot to be grateful for. You and I, I’m talking about now. We’ve watched these women fight it out and become big names in the world cricket over the last many years and come 9 am on 7 March, you and I need to show just how grateful we are to see our stars back in action. So, turn that television set on and welcome back these stars in their India Blue.