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Need For Change in Women’s Cricket: Hoping Against Hope

The pandemic has elevated the disparity between men’s & women’s cricket, with the situation worsening in recent weeks.

Post-Pandemic Disorder: Women’s Cricket Scheduling Problems

March 8th, 2020 with 86,174 spectators. The crescendo beginning in the 2017 Women’s ODI World Cup peaked on that day in the World T20 final between Australia and India. However, progress has stalled due to the COVID-19 break. The post-pandemic stats below show how the counterparts stacked between March 2020 & January 2021:

  1. Maximum possible days of international cricket scheduled (5 days maximum per tests)
    • Men: 128 days
    • Women: 16 days (including 5 Austria-Germany T20Is)
  2. Total Matches Played (international + T20 Leagues)
    • Men: 540
    • Women: 144

(Check out Who Cares About Women’s Cricket, where we displayed detailed list of post-COVID statistics, thoughts about women’s cricket & WIPL)

Miscommunication at its finest

Women’s cricket resumed in September 2020 as West Indies toured England. Later in the year, New Zealand played against Australia & England, and Pakistan visited South Africa. It took Indian women an entire year before playing against South Africa in March 2021. Proteas won the series comfortably 4-1 (ODIs) & 2-1 (T20I).

Although lack of match practice, domestic tournaments, & national camps was the reason for India’s defeat, highly regarded coach WV Raman was the casualty, alleging a “smear campaign” against him. Replacement Ramesh Powar, who famously had a fallout with Mithali Raj in 2018, was picked as the head coach again.

Stark Payment Gap

Although women cricketers have seen a marked increase in revenue since 2017, it is nearly not enough (with New Zealand, England, India, & Australia expanding central contracts).

BCCI’s latest contracts caused uproar. The highest paid men’s bracket is worth fourteen times as much as the highest paid women’s bracket.

Grade A+, consisting of Kohli, Sharma, and Bumrah earn about 7 crores (INR) or about $964,000 (USD). Grade A earn 5 crores ($689,000), B with 3 crores ($413,000), & C, consisting of the likes of Kuldeep & Gill, earn around 1 crore ($138,000).

Their counterparts—Mandhana, Kaur, & Poonam (Grade A) earn 50 lakhs INR ($68,000), while stalwarts like Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami (Grade B) plummet down to 30 lakhs ($41,000). This is comparable to the current standard around the world, but things do need to change.

What’s worse? World T20 finalist prize money worth $500,000 has not been paid yet, 14 months later. It took Isabelle Westbury’s Telegraph article & subsequent social media outrage to get BCCI to act, finally paying the dues.

The most profitable cricket board needs to allocate resources properly. The least they can do is avoid media stunts and focus on tangible progressive changes.

Hope In Times of Uncertainty

There is still hope, however.

Indian women will play two Test matches (last Test in 2014) this year, one each against England & Australia. The Test in Australia will be a day-night affair, which adds another layer of excitement.

Ireland & Scotland women are also back in action right now with a T20 series. New Zealand’s England tour in September is the only other scheduled series prior to the ODI World Cup (March 2022).

The Hundred Is the Savior

The Hundred in July this year promises to be a game-changer for women’s cricket.

All men & women’s game will be held on the same day on the same ground, will be televised (including free-to-air games), and prize money will be shared evenly between the winners of the men’s & women’s tournaments. It has the potentialize to revolutionize the women’s game and become a template for other T20 leagues to follow.

Even Indian players have been given the green signal to participate in the Women’s Hundred & the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

When Will the Attitudes Change Towards Women’s Cricket?

Australia, England, New Zealand are prime examples of how to recruit the future of women’s cricket, with efforts visible in the WBBL & New Zealand’s Super Smash tournaments.

Yet, there is still a long way to go. Each national board should prioritize women’s cricket, invest accordingly in the infrastructure, and work together with other nations to uplift standards.

Am I hoping against hope?

Copyright: Nitesh Mathur, 5/27/2021, Broken Cricket Dreams, bcd@brokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Review: Lizelle Lee, Punam Raut, & Lack of WIPL The Talking Points

India Vs South Africa Women Series Review.

After a year of no cricket, women’s cricket finally restarted in India. Although the series ended with 4-1 and 2-1 to South Africa, there were positives for both teams.

Lizelle Lee’s blew India away with a whirlwind series, Shabnim Ismail continued to show why she is one of the leading fast bowlers in the world, and Anneke Bosch made full use of her opportunities.

While it seems that Women’s IPL is not going to become a reality anytime soon, India had positives as well.

India added another feather to Mithali Raj’s & Jhulan Goswami’s record breaking careers, witnessed Punam Raut’s second coming & return of Mansi Joshi, and saw the rise of youngsters in Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Monica Patel, & Radha. The experienced trio of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Deol, & Deepti Sharma chipped in as well, but lower order power hitting & Jemimah Rodrigues’ ODI form remains a concern.

For Video Highlights/Scorecards, commentary on Women’s IPL, & emerging players, keep on reading ahead.

Also Read: Nobody Cares About Women’s Cricket, India Vs South Africa Women Preview

Stats, Scorecards & Video Highlights – India Vs South Africa

ODI Series: South Africa Women Win 4-1

  1. South Africa Women won by 8 wickets*Shabnim Ismail
  2. India Women won by 9 wickets*Jhulan Gosami
  3. South Africa Women won by 6 runs (D/L method)*Lizelle Lee
  4. South Africa Women won by 7 wickets*Mignon du Preez
  5. South Africa Women won by 5 wickets*Anneke Bosch

* Player of Match

ODI Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndiaSouth Africa
Lizelle Lee
Most RunsPunam Raut – 263 runs
(best of 104*, 100s-1, 50s-2, 87.66 average, 71.66 SR)
Lizelle Lee – 288 runs
(best 132*, 100s-1, 50s-2, 144.00 average, 86.22 SR)
Most WicketsJhulan Goswami – 8 wickets
(best of 4/42, 17.12 average, 3.51 economy)
Shabnim Ismail – 7 wickets
(best of 3/13, 20.25 average, 3.56 economy)
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 ODI Series Stats

T20I Series: South Africa Women Win 2-1

  1. South Africa Women won by 8 wickets*Anneke Bosch
  2. South Africa Women won by 6 wickets*Laura Wolvaardt
  3. India Women won by 9 wickets*Rajeshwari Gayakwad

* Player of Match

T20I Series Stats

Player of SeriesIndia
Shafali Verma
South Africa
Most RunsShafali Verma – 130 runs
(best of 60, 156.62 SR)
Sune Luus – 91 runs
(best of 43, 95.78 SR)
Most WicketsRajeshwari Gayakwad – 4 wickets
(best of 3/9, 4.75 economy)
Shabnim Ismail – 4 wickets
(best of 3/14, 8.20 economy)
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 T20I Series Stats

The Highlights

India

  • Punam Raut was revelation in this series with scores of 10, 62*, 77, 104*, & 10. Debuting 12 years ago with 72 ODIs & an average in the 30s, she was already a known name in the line up. Before this series, Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, & Jhulan Goswami were sure starters for the Indian Women’s ODI team. Add Punam Raut to that list after this breakthrough series. Could be a long term #3 option.
  • Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami once again displayed their worth in this ODI team. Although she had no centuries to her name this series, Mithali Raj consistently steadied the ship with scores of 50, 36, 45, and 79*. In the process, she became the first Indian women and second overall to cross 10,000 runs across formats. Legend. The other stalwart, Jhulan Goswami, came to the party as well with a match winning 4/42 in the second ODI.
  • Shafali Verma gave India the much-needed blazing starts in the T20I hitting 8 sixes altogether, with the 60*(30) in the 3rd T20I the best of the lot. Now the #1 ranked T20I batter. Time for ODI debut?

South Africa

  • If there was one player that was the difference between the two sides, it was Lizelle Lee and the top order. Usually one match winning knock in a series is a great achievement, but Lizelle came up with 83*, 132*, 69, & 70 across formats. Brilliant. When Lee did not perform, either the others in the top order Laura Wolvaardt (80 & 53) and Lara Goodall (59) came to the fore or South Africa women lost.
  • The Proteas found a new winner in Anneke Bosch with two player of the match performances. With Mignon Du Preez & Sune Luus chipping in and van Niekerk on an injury break, South Africa might be a dark horse for the next World Cup.
  • Shabnim Ismail & the fast bowling unit were impressive yet again. Although Ismail was the only one with the wickets, Khaka & Kapp kept the runs in the check, limiting India to 177, 248, 266, and 188.

Also Read: Impact of India’s 2017 Final Loss on the Lack of Women’s IPL, What Can Ellyse Perry Not Do?

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The Awards: Emerging Players & Surprise Package

India South Africa
Emerging PlayerShafali Verma, Harleen DeolAnneke Bosch
Surprise PackagePunam RautHow Did They Lose 2 Games?
Broken Cricket DreamNo Women’s IPL yet again & Jemimah Rodrigues’ ODI formVan Niekerk’s Out of Action – Missing out on a wonderful overseas series win
India Vs South Africa Women 2021 Series Awards

Where Do They Go From Here?

At this point, except the upcoming Australia vs New Zealand Women series coming up, there are no upcoming international fixtures till ODI World Cup in March 2022. The only professional cricket seems to be The Hundred in the UK this summer. Promises to be a game changer for Women’s cricket.

Another setback has happened with reports of no IPL in 2021 (with suggestions that this was done due to the ‘lack of depth’ and result of the South Africa series).

If the result of this series indeed had a direct impact on the WIPL decision, then let us reflect back. Were India really that bad this series? Not really. They actually improved over the course of the series. 177, 160/1 (won), 248 (lost only by D/L), and 266. In the final T20I, chased 113 with 9 wickets and 9 overs in hand. If not for Lizelle Lee’s brilliance, the score line would have been much closer.

Also if the national cricket board does not give the team a chance for an entire year after the team reached the final of a World T20, then it is not the players’ fault. It is the administration’s lack of urgency, vision, & communication.

Thoughts on Women’s Indian Premier League

It was nice to see widespread awareness and support in Twitter countering the arguments made against Women’s IPL. Here was a list of the top women professional cricketers in India that went viral.

If not now, when? Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami are on the verge of retirements, and it would be a shame if they are not part of the first iteration of this imaginary tournament. Here are my thoughts on the positives that Indian cricket can gain from the WIPL:

  1. Foster fanbases & transfer experience to the next generation of Indian players
  2. Intermingling of domestic Indian players with international stars and coaches, which has clearly been a feature of the
  3. Financial Growth, which can be reinvested to grow the women’s game in India and improve the standard of women’s domestic cricket in the long run.
  4. Cultural and financial awareness through the WIPL in the form of TV and social media can help make women’s sports a potential career in India
  5. Bring talented youngsters in the mix
  6. Narrowing down the gap between Australia-England-New Zealand and the rest of the countries in women’s cricket. This will also give an opportunity to Associate nations like the rising Thailand team.

Sure maybe 8 teams with 30 players each may be two far, but just 4 games in the Women’s T20 Challenge is a disgrace. Start with 4-6 teams and grow it little by little each year.

This is the time. Better late than never.

Copyright (2021: 3/27/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Image Courtesy: Bahnfrend, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

#Controversy Alert: Who Cares About Women’s Cricket Anyway?

Controversy of the Day: Nobody cares about women’s cricket.

Women’s CricketCan’t Live With It, Can Definitely Live Without It.
At least that is the attitude of cricket administration and media around the world.

Today news came in that the BCCI finally decided to organize women’s matches, simultaneously with the men’s Vijay Hazare Trophy & the Vinoo Mankad U-19 Trophy. After the 4 match Women’s T20 Challenge, there is something to look forward to for the Indian Women team.

Is it enough, though? How are all the other women international teams faring during this time? Why did we get here? Could more have been done over the last year?

So many questions…Don’t worry, I got you.

Post-COVID statistics between Women’s Vs Men’s cricket, looking ahead to 2021, facts about the women’s game we should all know as cricket fans, and the way forward for women’s cricket. 

*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.

Also Read: What Can Ellyse Perry Not Do?, What If Indian Women Won the 2017 ICC Cricket World Cup?

Rise of Women’s Cricket

March 8th, 2020—the peak for Women’s Cricket at the World T20 World Cup Final between Australia & India.

86, 174 spectators.

Following the monumental 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup, women’s cricket began moving in a positive direction. Casual cricket fans began to take notice, fan following increased for the likes of Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, & Smriti Mandhana, and representation in broadcasting expanded with Lisa Sthalekar, Isa Guha, & Ebony Rainford-Brent among others. Investment rose with the Women Big Bash League (WBBL), Kia Super League, & even the Women’s T20 Challenge. The highly anticipated experiment, The Hundred, was scheduled simultaneously with the men’s version for last summer.

The rise continued & on the auspicious International Women’s Day, the record number of spectators at the Women’s 2020 T20 World Cup confirmed Mithali Raj’s statement, “Truly I believe women’s cricket has come in the mainstream now.”

Momentum Halts For Women’s Cricket

March 8th, 2020—also the last time since India Women took field.

None. Zero. Nada.

It has been almost 11 months without any international cricket, domestic competition, or even a national training camp. Meanwhile, Indian men have played a 60-match IPL, & toured Australia from November-January for a 3-T20I, 3 ODI, and 4 classic Test matches. India women’s 3 match ODI tour of Australia scheduled in January? Cancelled due to coronavirus at the end of December. Explain that…

The momentum has truly been halted. Not only India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh women have not had much cricket either (although training camp has started for Bangladesh). Even the inaugural edition of the Hundred was postponed.

The second edition of men’s Indian Premier League post-COVID is about to begin in a couple of months and a 10-team IPL is rumored in 2022. On the other hand, after the gigantic leap from 1 match in 2018 to 4 matches in 2019, the Women T20 Challenge did not expand in 2020. And guess what? Those who participated in the Challenge were robbed of the opportunity to play WBBL due to bio-bubble regulations.

The biggest casualty, though was the earlier scheduled 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup.

Starting next week, from February 6th-March 7th, New Zealand was supposed to host World Cup. YES, New Zealand, the country best placed to host an international event in these circumstances. Yet, in August the ICC postponed it due to ‘disparity in level of preparedness’ between the different countries.

Men’s Vs Women’s Cricket: Post-Covid Statistics

Thanks to the ECB and their bio-secured bubble protocols, cricket started back with the England-West Indies Test Series. Since then, both men’s & women’s cricket restarted, but here is a table that shows the disparity of the amount of games played.

Since July, the men have had a maximum possible 128 days of international cricket scheduled (5 days maximum per test) as opposed to just 16 days for the women (5 of which were Austria Vs Germany T20I). Across formats & countries, men have clocked in 540 matches, while women have played a mere 144 matches.

Men’s CricketWomen’s Cricket
International Matches Played (June 2020-January 2021)56 matches
(18 Tests, 17 ODIs, 21 T20Is)
*excludes 16 matches
16 matches
(0 Tests, 3 ODIs, 13 T20Is)
*including Austria-Germany 5 T20Is
T10 & T20 Leagues Played Around the World 206 matches
(CPL, IPL, SLPL, BBL, T10 League)
63 matches
(Women’s T20 Challenge, BBL)
Domestic Cricket 278 matches
(Syed Mustaq Ali, Vitality Blast, Super Smash NZ, Bob Willis Trophy)
65 matches
(Ireland Super50, Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy, Super Smash NZ)
International Scheduled Matches For 2021 (So Far)96 matches
(24 T20Is, 12 ODIs, 15 Tests including WTC Final + 45 match 2021 T20 World Cup)
18 matches
(9 ODIs, 9 T20Is)
Total Matches (Mar 2020-2021)
*excluding T20/Domestic Leagues for 2021
636 matches162 matches
Post-Covid Men’s & Women’s Cricket Summary

*Table does not include the 3 Eng-SA & the 2 Ire-UAE ODIs that were cancelled due to COVID.

Series Summary

Here are the details of the various series, leagues, & domestic tournaments played over the last year.

*Australia (Aus), New Zealand (NZ), India (Ind), England (Eng), Sri Lanka (SL), South Africa (SA), Pakistan (Pak), West Indies (WI), Bangladesh (Ban), Zimbabwe (Zim), Ireland (Ire), & Afghanistan (Afg).

International Matches Played (June 2020-January 2021)

Men’s
  • WI tour Eng (3 Tests), Pak tour Eng (3 Tests, 3 T20I), Ire tour Eng (3 ODIs), Aus tour Eng (3 T20Is, 3 ODIs)
  • Zim tour Pak (3 ODI, 3 T20I), Ire tour UAE (4 ODIs – 2 cancelled), Ire Vs Afg (3 ODI)
  • Eng tour SA (3 T20I, ODIs abandoned), SL tour SA (2 Tests), Eng tour SL (2 Tests)
  • WI tour NZ (3 T20I, 2 Tests), Pak tour NZ (3 T20I, 2 Tests)
  • Ind tour Aus (3 ODIs, 3 T20Is, 4 Tests)

*Excludes 16 games played by Guersney, Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, Malta, Romania

Women’s
  • Austria tour Germany (5 T20I)
  • WI tour England (5 T20I)
  • NZ tour Aus (3 ODI, 3 T20I)

T10 & T20 Leagues Played Around the World

  • Men: Caribbean Premier League (33 matches), Indian Premier League (60), Sri Lanka Premier League (23), Big Bash League (61), T10 League (29)
  • Women: WBBL (59 matches), IPL Exhibition games (4)

Domestic Cricket

  • Men: Bob Willis Trophy (Eng – 46 matches), 2020 T20 Vitality Blast (Eng – 97), 32 Super Smash (NZ – 32), Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy (India – 103)
  • Women: Super50 Cricket Series (Ire – 8 matches), Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy (Eng – 25)

Schedule Lookout for 2021

Well if you thought 2020 was bad, 2021’s schedule does not seem like a drastic improvement either. Sure, just like the Vijay Hazare & Vinoo Mankad, more matches may be scheduled later, but the number of planned games in 2021 tells you the story.

Women’s Cricket 2021 Schedule

According to the ICC Fixtures for the next year, Women’s cricket looks as follows:

  1. Pak tour SA (3 ODI, 3 T20I): Jan 20-Feb 3 (Ongoing)
  2. Eng tour NZ (3 ODI, 3 T20I): Feb 23-Mar 5
  3. Aus tour NZ (3 ODI, 3 T20I): Mar 27-Apr 10

After this, the next scheduled international fixture is the postponed 2022 Women’s World Cup that begins on March 4th, 2022. Domestically, apart from women’s edition of Vijay Hazare & Vinoo Mankad U-19, Australia National Cricket League (28 matches) has been announced, with The Hundred, Women Big Bash League, & Women’s T20 Challenge possibly returning for 2021.

Men’s Cricket Schedule 2021

While international women’s cricket as a whole has only been scheduled 18 limited overs matches in 2021, the Men’s England Test team alone are slotted 17 Test Matches (18 if they reach the WTC final), apart from the T20 World Cup & other bilateral series.

Currently, WI tour of Ban (3 ODI, 2 Tests) & SA tour of Pak (2 Tests, 3 T20Is) are ongoing, with the England tour of India (4 Tests, 5 T20I, 3 ODI), IPL 2021 (60 matches), & The Hundred on the horizon.

  • 51 matches planned in 2021 (24 T20Is, 12 ODIs, 15 Tests including WTC Final)
  • 45 match ICC Men’s T20I World Cup October-November (in India)

Did You Know?

Who was the first cricketer to score a double century in ODI? Umm..Sachin Tendulkar 200* Vs South Africa in 2010, right? Wrong. It was actually Belinda Clark’s 229* in the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup.

The real question is, do we ourselves pay enough attention to Women’s Cricket or just hypocritically vouch for the women’s game?

We all know about Tendulkar’s 100 100s, Bradman’s 99.94, Muralitharan’s 800, Sharma’s 264. For our collective cultural enhancement, here is a short list of statistics and facts we should all know about Women’s Cricket.

Numbers & Facts in Women’s Cricket We Should All Know

*Note, this stats are divided by format: Test | ODI | T20I .

Batting

  • Most Runs: 1935 – Jan Brittin (Eng) | 6,888 – Mithali Raj (Ind) | 3301 – Suzie Bates (NZ)
  • Highest Score: 242 – Kiran Baluch (Pak) | 232* – Amelia Kerr (NZ) | 148* – Alyssa Healy (Aus)
  • Most 100s/50+: 5 (100s)/16 (50+) – Jan Brittin (Eng), 14 (100s) – Meg Lanning (Aus)/ 60 (50+) – Mithali Raj (Ind) | 22 (50+) Suzie Bates (NZ) (several players with 2 T20I centuries)
  • Highest Partnership: 309 – Lindsay Reeler & Denise Annets (Aus) | 320 – Deepti Sharma & Poonam Raut (Ind) | 257 Yulia Anggraeni & Kadek Winda Prastini (Indonesia)

Bowling

  • Most Wickets: 77 – Mary Duggan (Eng) | 225 – Jhulan Goswami (Ind) | 120 – Anisa Mohammed (WI)
  • Best Figures Innings: 8/53 – Neetu David (Ind) | 7/4 – Sajjida Shah (Pak) | 6/0 – Anjali Chand (Nepal)
  • Most 5-fers: 5 – Shubhangi Kulkarni (Ind) | 6 -Anisa Mohammed (WI) | 7 (4-fers+) – Anisa Mohammed (WI)
  • Best Figures Match/ Most 10-fers (Tests): 13/226 – Shaiza Khan (Pak) / 2 10-fers – Betty Wilson (Aus)

Wicket-Keeping/Fielding

  • Most Catches (Fielding): 25 – Carole Hodges (Eng) | 67 – Suzie Bates (NZ) | 64 – Suzie Bates (NZ)
  • Most Dismissals (Keeper): 58 – Christina Matthews (Aus) | 160 – Trisha Chetty (SA) | 93 – Alyssa Healy (Aus)

Teams

  • Highest Team Total: 569/6 declared Aus (vs Eng) | 491/5 NZ (Vs Ire) | 314/2 Uganda (Vs Mali)
  • World Cups: ODIs – Aus (6 times), Eng (4), NZ (1) | T20Is – Aus (5 times), Eng (1), WI (1)

A Way Forward

Australia, England, & New Zealand are historically the most successful women cricket teams and rightly so. They have invested in women’s cricket for decades & are broadening the recruitment of young girls in cricket. Other countries lag behind in the recruitment, infrastructure, & investment.

In the COVID era, the template provided by NZ’s Super Smash, India’s Vijay Hazare, & England’s Hundred should become common. The corresponding matches for the same teams should be played on the same day for both the men & women respectively. This may help out with spectators & TV revenues as well.

This is definitely possible for domestic competitions & T20 leagues, but should even be considered for international tours as well, at least for the limited overs leg.

These are just some limited thoughts, but there are limitless ideas to promote women’s cricket if enough focus is given to this part of the sport.

Supply & Demand

More needs to be done for Women’s Cricket in current times. If this break continues longer, experienced players will start to retire, budding youngsters might not receive opportunity (and hence, may leave the sport altogether), and the compounding loss of revenue will hurt women’s cricket for generations to come.

If the ICC and national boards do not ramp up support in 2021, as Anjum Chopra called it, Women’s Cricket will remain just as an ‘add on’ feature, and nothing more. Who knows, instead of waiting for their next opportunity, the likes of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami should just retire now, join administration, take matters in their own hands, fix women’s cricket administration, un-retire and play.

Women Cricket’s current status can be summarized with the saying, “If you are not at table, you are on the menu.”

Hope Remains

Although the coronavirus break as halted the momentum, hope remains. With the T20 international status open to several countries now, smaller nations like Thailand & Nepal have taken large strides. With role models like Ellyse Perry & Sophie Devine (see below), more girls have taken up the sport seriously.

Finally, us fans can themselves can help in the resurgence of momentum. The entire game is about supply & demand. Men’s cricket & the IPL generates a lot of revenue. Hence, T20 cricket remains essential at possibly the expense of Test cricket. Similarly, women’s cricket is less profitable and hence, gets less support. So, we should demand more women’s cricket and encourage girls to take the sport up.

Fans need to get involved. Bloggers (including me) should write more on women’s cricket. You should tweet more on women’s cricket. Watch lots of videos, look up more stats, & make women’s cricket viral. Get the media involved. Slowly & steadily, women’s cricket administration will take notice & invest more.

Anyway, I will leave you all with a classy Sophie Devine, who recently scored the fastest T20 century in women’s cricket (36 balls), but her sportsmanship & humanity was the highlight.

So there you go. Lots of controversy, with a tinge of hope.

Copyright (2021: 1/30/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – bcd@brokokencricketdreams.com

Embed from Getty Images

Image Courtesy: Bahnfrend, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons, Getty Images

Sources: ICC Results (Women) ICC Results (Men), ICC Fixtures 2021 (Women), ICC Fixtures 2021 (Men)

What If India Won 2017 ICC Cricket World Cup?

Today’s Scenario: Mithali Raj Lifts the 2017 Cricket World Cup

In our segment Just Imagine, we explore how a specific moment in cricket could have lasting ripple effects. Going back in time, we ask a simple question: What Would Happened if…? and reflect on its consequences.

What if Brathwaite’s Dream Was Not Diminished in Manchester in the 2019 Cricket World Cup? What if Freddie Flintoff Kept his Cool to Yuvraj Singh in the 2007 T20 World Cup?

Since the Women T20 Challenge is in full flow among the teams—Trailblazers, Velocity, and the Supernovas, we imagine what would have happened if India had not collapsed against England in the 2017 Cricket World Cup Final?

Match:

England vs India, July 23rd 2017, Final, Lord’s, London, ICC Women’s World Cup

Background:

The 2017 Cricket World Cup was a watershed moment in several ways for women’s cricket. It was widely broadcasted and viewed, the matches were highly competitive, several remarkable individual performances were on show, and to cap it off—an intense final.

The hosts were favorite to win the trophy, while India captured the imagination of the world during the tournament.

In the group stages, India had won 5/7 games while brushing Australia aside in the semi-finals thanks to Harmanpreet Kaur’s magnificent 171*—maybe the best world cup innings by an Indian in a semi-final, certainly in the last decade. On the other hand, England squeaked past the Proteas with 2 balls to spare. Their only defeat in the tournament coming at the hand of India via Smriti Mandana’s elegant 90.

The final was a classic low-scoring thriller. Ebbs and flows throughout.

England scored 228/7. In response, Mandana and Raj fell cheaply before Punam Raut and Kaur stabilized and registered 50s.

India now in control….Or at least, we thought.

Embed from Getty Images

The Moment:

Chasing 229, India are sitting comfortably at 191-3.

38 needed off 44 balls. Punam Raut 86* (114), Veda Krishnamurthy 28* (28). Then, next ball, there is an appeal for LBW…

What Actually Happened:

42. 5 Shrubsole to Raut OUT:

Punam has asked for a review but the umpire says sorry, you took too long. Do England have wink of an opportunity? This was the wrong shot. Length ball sliding in from wide of the crease, Punam plays all around the delivery. Looked to work it square when he could’ve played in down the ground. Hit on the knee roll. That would’ve gone on to hit the stumps. Has she done enough though?

[Source: Cricinfo commentary]

What followed was an absolute collapse. Anya Shrubsole’s 6 wicket haul grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.

India fell agonizingly 9 runs short with 8 balls still remaining.

Highlights: England trumps India in tense World Cup Final

Just Imagine:

If Punam Raut had straight batted the shot, or if the DRS review was called in time, and the decision (magically) overturned, what would have happened?

The Consequence:

Punam Raut hits an unbeaten century in the final. Veda seals the deal with an exquisite six.

Jhulam Goswami, the star with 3 wickets on the final, and captain Mithali Raj retire as World Cup winners. The 2017 squad return as legends. Their stories now etched in stone along with the 1983 and 2011.

The BCCI want to capitalize as usual.

They have a template—2007 T20 World Cup and the 2008 IPL. Upon the Indian men’s victory, the experiment of IPL turned into an unprecedented success, changing the global cricket game forever.

They have an opportunity again.

The Women’s IPL launches in 2018. All the world cup heroes are in their prime. Raj captains the Chennai Super Kings, Harmanpreet the marquee player for Kings XI Punjab, and Mandhana starring for the Mumbai Indians. With foreign players such as Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, and the world’s greatest Ellyse Perry, the WIPL is a financial and global success.

This T20 experience gained helps Indian women win the 2020 T20 World Cup defeating Australia in their background in front of a 86,174 crowd at the MCG.

Reflection – Inaction Trumps Imagination

Well, things did not turn out that way, did it?

Winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. Yes, one moment can change histories, but sometimes if action is taken in the right time, it could pay dividends as well.

India’s performance had already delighted audiences around the world and Goswami-Mithali-Harmanpreet-Mandana were household names.

Why then, has the WIPL not been put into action?

It did not need to be an 8 team tournament. A 5-6 team tournament would be wonderful as well. In 3 years, teams would have stabilized, rivalries and fanbase would have fostered, and ultimately, women’s cricket would have benefitted.

Instead, we are watching the 3rd T20 Women’s challenge as an afterthought of a 56 match exhausting Men’s IPL, just taking a break before the Playoffs. Meanwhile, most of the foreign players like Heather Knight, Alyssa Healy, and Ellyse Perry are employing their trade at the WBBL, and we are just waiting for the Hundred for a competitive world T20 women’s league.

With the likes of Shefali Verma, Deepti Sharma, and Jemimah Rodrigues, India’s future is still bright, but by the time WIPL commences, India women’s stars would have already retired.

Photo of Jemimah Rodrigues
Jemimah Rodrigues times a cover drive to perfection

Inspired By Conversations with Vandit and ESPNCricinfo’s Alternative Universe Series.

Sources: ICC, Cricinfo
Image Courtesy: Eng-Ind Final: BMN Network (Flickr) via CC 2.0, Jemimah Rodrigues: Bahnfrend, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons