Let me ask you a simple question: Can you name all the member of the Indian women’s cricket team?
Even if you are a die-hard cricket fan, you will still struggle to name all 15. You might be able to name the skipper Mithali Raj -- who currently tops the ICC International batting rankings and has scored 752 runs in T20 internationals at an average of over 30 -- or fast bowler Jhulan Goswami – who was once the fastest bowler in women’s cricket – but the rest – as far as India are concerned – are just names, not faces.
In this scenario, does it make sense for the BCCI to issue a diktat to the team management of the women’s team saying that only the captain and the coach will be available for media interactions?
We landed up at the women’s practice in Colombo and proceeded to meet the women’s team manager, Vidya Yadav – a former cricketer herself and the sister of Shivlal Yadav who is also a BCCI vice-president. The conversation went like this:
Q: Hello, we are jounalists. We were wondering if it might be possible to chat with some of the players?
Yadav: We can’t do that. The BCCI has issued strict instructions that only the captain and coach will speak to the media. So you can speak to them.
Q: But don’t you think it will help if the country actually knows the other players as well?
Yadav: I know it will. But the BCCI has said that only the captain and coach will speak to the media.
Q: Well, can you speak to them and see if they will change their mind?
Yadav: They have already said it.
And that was that. Yadav was not going to press any further and it isn’t her fault either because the BCCI just doesn’t see the logic is giving the women’s team any publicity. But one can’t help but wonder why?
The way up for any sport is to have personalities who are recognized by the public at large. It’s either that or a World Cup win. So the BCCI should be doing it’s best to give this team as big a push as possible especially for the major tournaments. Instead, they down the shutters.
It’s a strange way to promote a sport. Since 2006, the women’s team doesn't play Test matches – they play only ODIs and T20 matches. And in most year’s they are lucky to get maybe two short international series a year. For the rest of the time, they are pretty much cooling their heels.
To deny them their 15 minutes of fame is rather cruel of the BCCI and pretty senseless as well.
India is in Pool A with Australia, England and Pakistan. And the women kick off their campaign on 27 September with a match against Australia, followed by their next game on 29 September versus England.
The India v Pakistan match will take place on 1 October.
England and Australia are favourites to go through to the semis from this pool.
Indian team: Mithali Raj (captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Ekta Bisht, Archana Das, Jhulan Goswami, Reema Malhotra, Mona Meshram, Sulakshana Naik, Nagarajan Niranjana, Rasanara Parwin, Anuja Patil, Poonam Raut, Amita Sharma, Shubhlakshmi Sharma.