A few fresh suggestions made to make women's cricket more popular and help it grow has started a new debate. New Zealand captain Sophie Devine, during an ICC webinar, had suggested that the size of the ball should be reduced to "help the game flourish". India's batting star Jemimah Rodrigues suggested shortening the length of the pitch to promote the game.
Devine had said, "I am a probably bigger fan of smaller ball but keeping the pitch as same size. Bowlers are going to bowl quicker, spinners will be able to turn the ball more and hopefully the ball should fly further."
India pacer Shikha Pandey, in a series of tweets, showed her disagreement with the new suggestions, calling most of the them as 'superfluous'. While Pandey agreed with reducing the size of the ball, she said it should be done keeping in mind the weight remains the same. She, however, completely rubbished the idea of decreasing the length of the pitch.
As per ICC rules, in women's cricket "the ball, when new, shall weigh not less than 4.94 ounces/140 g, nor more than 5.31 ounces/151 g, and shall measure not less than 8.25 in/21.0 cm, nor more than 8.88 in/22.5 cm in circumference". Whereas in men's cricket, the weight of the ball is between 155.9 to 163 g and measurement is 22.4-22.9 cm. The pitch size is 22 yards/20.12 m in length and 10 ft/3.05 m in width, in both men's and women's games.
Pandey wrote, "Growth can also be achieved by marketing the sport well. We don't have to tinker with rules or the very fabric of the game to attract an audience."
India's leading wicket-taker Jhulan Goswami has backed Shikha's opinion, saying that there is no need to bring such changes when women's cricket is already seeing a rise in popularity as well as improvement in players' skills.
Speaking to Firstpost about the suggestions made by Devine and Rodrigues, Goswami said, "Shikha Pandey has already tweeted and I appreciate her thought. I truly agree with her. Let pitches (sizes) remain the same. (As far as) ball size in women's cricket (is concerned), we already use smaller ball than what is used in men's cricket."
Goswami added that women's cricket's popularity is already on the rise and it is reflected in the head counts at mega events such as the World Cup.
"You don't require so much changes to glamourise women's cricket. In 2017 World Cup final, you saw a full house. Highest viewership in television. In 2020, last T20 World Cup, more than 80,000 spectators came to watch the match. What is the need of changing anything?"
She also said that, with time women's cricket has become a better sport to watch. The cricketers have improved by leaps and bounds and one sees a good throw from the boundary lines, a flying six every now and then a gutsy effort in the field to catch the ball.
"The girls are improving in every skill, be it fielding or power hitting. They are hitting sixes and boundaries more often, throwing from the boundary line has improved and so has running between the wickets. I don't think so you need to change a lot of things."
However, Goswami does feel that it is good to see so much talk around women's cricket, which was missing a few years back. She said that it reflects on how things are changing, which is a good sign.
"I am glad that people are thinking of women's cricket. Earlier, these talks were not around us. Now, people are at least talking about it. Good sign that people are putting an effort, putting out an thought around women's cricket. I am happy people are taking care of women's cricket in that way," said Goswami, who is the leading wicket-taker in ODIs.