Sport has proved to be a breath of fresh air during the coronavirus pandemic. Fans are hooked to the gripping India versus Australia contest. The games have been tight and the memes, incredible. However, as the men’s game gets back on track with tours lined up one after another, the women’s game has once again been ignored. It begs the question, why these double standards?
The last time the India women’s team played an international game was in March during the T20 World Cup, where we finished runners-up behind hosts Australia. Since then, the BCCI first pulled out of the women’s tri-series in England in July, promised bilateral series in West Indies and South Africa that never materialised, and have now also cancelled the tour to Sri Lanka. The only thing the Indian women’s team is getting is tareekh par tareekh, tareekh par tareekh, tareekh par tareekh.
The world’s richest cricketing body also needs to come up with a better set of excuses. India pulled out of the England tour despite the ECB willing to make arrangements for travel and accommodation in line with Covid-19 protocols. If the men’s team can travel and play around the world, why can’t those safety standards and guarantees be extended for the women’s team as well? The recent tour to Sri Lanka has been cancelled due to a lengthy quarantine protocol of the Sri Lankan government. If other international teams are touring and following similar protocols, surely the BCCI could’ve resolved this issue with the Lankan board.
A women’s IPL is also being talked about for years but there’s hardly any movement.
Former Indian skipper Anjum Chopra has weighed in on the issue. “The idea is to get the girls back in action and BCCI will have to find a way forward. If the girls are not playing they will tend to lose form and momentum. It’s not easy to just walk out and perform,” she said. While the India team waits to get back into action, Australia, England, New Zealand and West Indies are already up and running. Sport is about consistency and momentum and staying away from the game for long periods of time can do no good.
The cracks run deeper. While there is a domestic schedule for the men’s team, no such roadmap exists for the women’s team. A women’s IPL is also being talked about for years but there’s hardly any movement. As per sources, the team is currently without a manager, physio Tracy Fernandes’ term has ended and coach WV Raman will also complete his tenure in December. No professional sports team around the world is managed in such a hapless manner.
When displeasure is expressed at the performance of the women’s team, what must also be noted is the support and infrastructure provided by the BCCI, in contrast to the men’s team. The BCCI could take clues from the England Cricket Board and Cricket Australia on how to promote the women’s game at the highest level. The Indian women’s team keeps making the country proud not because of the BCCI, but despite it.