Women’s Cricket – a neglected second cousin

“Cricket”, a word enough to get sports fanatics at their enthusiastic best, a name enough to record huge crowds at the stadiums & a term enough to get the cash registers ringing. But add a prefix to it, let’s say-women & now let’s see what the term becomes. It’s women cricket. Oh gosh! Suddenly the crowd has disappeared, almost instantly the enthusiasm has evaporated & too quickly the cash has been looted.
This is not a virtual reality; rather this is the absolute reality of women cricket in India. And this is after Women Cricket Association of India achieved its official stature in 1973, some 24 years back.
The statement that women cricket is neglected is underestimated. Rather what’s disturbing is the fact that finances continue to elude them. Just consider for a moment, Indian Women Cricket team reached the finals of Women World Cup 2005 for the first time in history. Had the media covered it half as extensively as it covered the dismal performance of the men in blue in the 2007 World Cup, it would surely have brought some sponsors’ luck for their women counterparts as well.
The irony doesn’t end here. The talks are just in mid-air for the bid for hosting 2011 Cricket World Cup tilting in India’s favour & the sponsors have already started making their presence felt for the same. Compare this to the amount of interest generated by Women World Cup hosted by India. The 1978 edition had literally no major sponsor to talk of, as Sudha Shah, former Indian Cricket Captain Quotes in one of one of her interviews, “When we go in search of a sponsor, the first question we are asked is, what mileage do we get out of women’s cricket?”.
Well the mileage factor surely takes into account some mystical analysis, as the statistics are well onto women’s side as well. Currently, Indian Women team holds second position in the ICC world ranking, just after Australia. Contrastingly, the men have managed to attain the sixth spot after the recent battle against the South Africans. Still, a name like Mithali Raj doesn’t manage to ring a bell, so what if she captained the Indian Cricket team in the World Cup finals? We would rather be happily remembering the names of the “extras” announced by the BCCI (Board of Cricket council of India)!
The feminists can watch “Bend It like Beckham” or the more desi “Chak De” & romanticize the fact that a big win led to a change in fortune for women sports, but seemingly that happens only in dream land.

Mohita Nagpal
Delhi, India