Don’t Lose Sight of the Real Goal

Women’s cricket needs much more than fe­lic­i­ta­tions

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Bo­ria Ma­jum­dar

—Reuters Seven In­dian jour­nal­ists were at the air­port when the Mithali Raj-led In­dian team left for Eng­land for the World Cup in June. More than 80 were there to re­ceive them at 2.30am on July 26 when they landed in Mum­bai com­ing sec­ond best to Eng­land in a closely con­tested fi­nal. These facts are con­firmed to me by a jour­nal­ist col­league who was there on both oc­ca­sions. Even when Jhu­lan Goswami landed in Kolkata the next day, there were no less than 50 jour­nal­ists present at the air­port. Since mak­ing the fi­nals, the team has been awarded Rs 50 lakh each by the BCCI and in­di­vid­u­als like Raj have been gifted a crore by the state gov­ern­ment and also a BMW by sports en­thu­si­ast Vank­ina Chamundeswaranath. Most oth­ers have also been feted for their splen­did show­ing at the World Cup.

While these fe­lic­i­ta­tions and meet­ings with men and women in promi­nence con­tinue, the moot ques­tion needs to be asked over and over again. Will we con­tinue with these fe­lic­i­ta­tions and func­tions with­out mak­ing the most of this op­por­tu­nity? Bluntly put, have we lost sight of the real goal al­ready? This surge in in­ter­est will soon die down and it might yet again end up be­ing an op­por­tu­nity lost.

For the record, In­dia won 101 medals at the 2010 Com­mon­wealth Games and it was our best show­ing ever. It was fol­lowed by a very good show­ing at the 2010 Asian Games with our box­ers win­ning mul­ti­ple medals, in­clud­ing a gold by Vi­jen­der Singh. The surge con­tin­ued in Lon­don and In­dia ended up with 6 medals for the first time in his­tory. These ath­letes, toast of the na­tion, were cel­e­brated and re­warded. But soon enough it was all back to square one. With the IOA sus­pended for cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment in De­cem­ber 2012, the en­tire mo­men­tum was lost. In­dia was down to 65 medals at Glas­gow 2014 from the 101 in 2010, we won half of what we had won in 2010 at the 2014 Asian Games and fi­nally to two at Rio 2016.

In­abil­ity to make use of the op­por­tu­nity and make more pro­found struc­tural changes in the sport­ing realm has meant In­dian Olympic s p o r t s c o n t i nue its strug­gle for cor­po­rate sup­port. That’s what we don’t want for women’s cricket. While it’s all very good to give Mithali a BMW, may be Chamundeswar­nath, a for­mer crick­eter and ad­min­is­tra­tor, would have done bet­ter in giv­ing this money for host­ing women’s camps across the state. While the BCCI seems all gung-ho about the women’s cricket at the mo­ment, we have not yet heard of any con­crete steps they plan to take in the com­ing months. Will there be more tours and a well-de­fined Fu­ture Tour Pro­gram (FTP)? Will there be a change in the na­ture of cen­tral con­tracts? Can we start think­ing of more camps? Will there be thought of an IPL style tour­na­ment or ex­hi­bi­tion games

A surge in in­ter­est in women’s cricket will soon die down if we don’t make the most of the op­por­tu­nity

side by side the men’s IPL, as Sne­hal Prad­han, a for­mer In­dia crick­eter, had sug­gested in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the World Cup? Fi­nally, and very im­por­tantly, what is the BCCI’s stand on cricket’s in­clu­sion in the Olympics?

The de­ci­sion on Olympics par­tic­i­pa­tion can have a mas­sive im­pact on the women’s game go­ing for­ward. Har­man­preet Kaur lead­ing an In­dian team out at Paris in 2024 will yet again gal­va­nize the na­tion and the

—BCCL mo­ment cricket is in­cluded in the world’s great­est spec­ta­cle, cor­po­rate In­dia will be forced to take no­tice. The BCCI needs to re­alise it is no longer a de­ci­sion based on the men’s team alone. The women are equal stake­hold­ers. They need to be con­sulted be­fore the ICC is in­formed. Time is at a pre­mium here. A de­ci­sion will be made in Septem­ber, and un­less the BCCI de­cides to of­fer its sup­port, this will be yet an­other ma­jor op­por­tu­nity lost.

Ravi Shas­tri dur­ing In­dia’s prac­tice session at the Sin­halese Sports Club ground

While the BCCI seems all gung-ho about the women’s cricket at the mo­ment, we have not yet heard of any con­crete steps to take it to the next level


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