Women team’s debacle leaves a lot to ponder

It was not just an abject batting failure that let India down in Sri Lanka, but there are areas that need urgent attention.



New Delhi: The Indian women’s team qualified for the 2014 World T20, but the three successive losses that sent them out of the tournament left a spate of questions in its wake.

It was not just an abject batting failure that let India down in Sri Lanka, but there are areas that need urgent attention and improvement at home, say some of the best-known players of the country.

Meagre payments (each player at the World T20 is said to be getting just Rs 100,000 while Rs 2,500 per international), lack of sufficient tournaments, particularly for juniors, absence of large and enough number of grounds, proper selection, and lack of tournaments with multiple-day matches are some of the problems that they point out.

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The most amazing fact, which they underlined, is that India haven’t played a Test match for six years, the last one being in 2006 in England.

While no team member was willing to speak — they pointed that their contract prohibits them from talking to the media — stalwarts like former captains Shanta Rangaswamy and Sandhya Agarwal and former pacer Shashi Gupta minced no words in telling the sad story of women’s cricket.

And Diana Edulji, who wants the BCCI to give a one-time benefit purse to women too, said: “I’m so disgusted with the performance that I don’t want to comment.” “Our team combination was not proper. Our batting performance was very, very poor,” Sandhya told MAIL TODAY, referring to India’s scores of 104/8, 116/6, 98/9, and 102/1.

India batted first against Australia and England, and barely crossed the 100-run mark. And against Pakistan, they failed to chase down 98 runs. The lone consolation win came against Sri Lanka, and it helped Mithali Raj’s team to qualify for the 2014 World T20. Shanta said that “a combination of factors” were responsible for all this.

“The number of tournaments, particularly of longer duration, should be increased so that a good team could evolve. Then, we are not concentrating on the technique. We’ve to analyse the reasons for this failure. We must encourage under-16 players, but the u-16 tournament has been discontinued,” she said.

Shanta is no more involved in the running of the game, but she said: “I’ve no locus standi, but as a well wisher of the game I’ll write to the BCCI about these issues.” A few years ago, the ICC made it mandatory for all national women’s cricket boards to merge with the men’s.

Shashi Gupta, who often raised pertinent issues with the BCCI, said smaller grounds and lack of proper pitches add to women’s woes. “The problems persist in all the states. Last year, I pointed out that India hasn’t played a Test series since 2006, but got no reply,” she said.

While the BCCI was good enough to arrange three series before the World T20, officials say that women can’t be equated with men.

“See the Indian (men) players are getting all these facilities after 75-80 years (of BCCI’s formation); the women’s wing wanted (the same) within two years. They want to be treated on the same lines as a Dhoni and a Tendulkar,” said a top official on condition of anonymity.

“Within bounds and reasons they’ve been given everything. But we cannot duplicate the men’s wing for them. Men’s wing got it after 75 years, after delivering so much on the field.”