It was a rare instance, to watch the Indian men’s and women’s cricket teams practice at the same time, at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. The press would make it a point to monitor every single ball that the batsmen faced in the nets, jotting down the names of local practice bowlers who managed to beat an Indian jersey, watching and waiting for the big names to get up from the plastic chairs, so that pen could meet paper. Nobody would notice some ladies sporting the same official crest, as they slipped past the media onto the field for some fitness and fielding drills in their corner. There is really no need to investigate if their bytes were taken or even published. Since we are discussing the leeward side of cricket, how many of us are aware that the Women’s T20 World Cup begins on the September 26th in Sri Lanka?
The issue here has more to do with public perception than anything else, with a common impression being that the cricket being played by the opposite sex, is just the opposite of how it is played by the gents. It would be sheer folly to expect the ladies to play cricket like the men, for it doesn’t work that way in any sport. Serena Williams isn’t expected to play like Roger Federer, just like why your father’s cooking is different from what your mother brings to the table everyday, only if your dad enters the kitchen at all in the first place. If it is their skills that you want to question, then you might want to watch Ellyse Perry play. Who is she, is a good trivia question. Let’s ask.
What do Dennis Compton, Vivian Richards, Jeff Wilson and Ellyse Perry have in common? They are cricket’s double internationals, with the last name in the question representing Australia at both the cricket and soccer World Cups. That’s a ‘ladies first’ for a cricketer, and is definitely a very big achievement. Perry has played against men and taken their wickets; and has also bent it like Beckham on the football turf for the Matildas. So much so that when she was given an ultimatum, to choose between football and cricket, she chose the latter, before finding a club that accommodated her sporting ambidexterity. When batting, she must be looking at the ball like a football!
In a cricket-crazy country like India, it is important that our ladies play cricket, for here a child’s choices are shaped pretty much by a parent. There is a perennial academics versus sports battle, and hopefully there might be a chance that a mother who played cricket, could be a little more excited about a 100 not out, than a 100/100 scribbled on a mathematics paper. Both boys and girls stand to benefit if this lofty dream does come true. But the mother of all problems is to get more girls to play the game, and that isn’t exactly child’s play. Why?
Simple. There just aren’t enough tournaments, with the reason being that it might be very difficult to just put a team together. When was the last time you saw a girls cricket team practising in a school or a college? Imagine how hard it would be to organise a league then. But our girls are too busy beating our boys in every single academic examination, that they just don’t have the time to take a single on a cricket field. How to get them to drop their ballpoint pens and pick up the SG ball is a task that even a feminist would refuse point blank. The BCCI has taken over women’s cricket in India, but then wooing the bhartiya nari to take participative interest in the game, can be tricky if not challenging. Cricket is in the pink of its health, all it needs is more women playing the game. It’s over to you ladies. The pink ball is in your court. No, we weren’t talking tennis.
Beamer: Did she bowl a maiden over?
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