Thiruvananthapuram: The Board of Control for Cricket in India will now focus on improving the women's cricket in India by initiating a Future Tours Programme across ODIs and T20s, BCCI General Manager Ratnakar Shetty said on Monday.
"We are now planning to have a FTP at the international level like the men's team for ODIs and T20s and that is working out well. Don't go by the quantity of matches but go by the fact that we will be playing better teams in the next two years and our girls will get a chance to compete at that level," said Shetty.
He was speaking at a panel discussion on women's cricket as part of the 40th National Convention of the Sports Journalists' Federation of India.
"Women's cricket came under BCCI in 2006 and the last 11 years has seen a lot of progress in terms of facilities that are available for girls, even at the state level and the BCCI level," he said.
"There is a common question that there are not enough matches for women. What is important to understand is that, and this was at the ICC forum I attended, countries like England and Australia are not keen on Test matches. Every country and ICC is first interested in creating a base for women's cricket for promotion of the game in all the nations which play cricket," said Shetty.
"Therefore the focus is only on limited overs cricket, the ODIs and T20s. In the ODI World Cup in England recently, the girls played some outstanding cricket and suddenly there was a lot of enthusiasm among the journalist fraternity which was not seen earlier. And because of the matches being shown on television, girls like Mithali (Raj) became a household name, and someone like Harmanpreet (Kaur) is equivalent to a men's cricketer and that gives us great joy," he added.
Shetty, who has taken up the additional responsibility of in-charge of the women's game, said the structure of the game in India has been altered.
"We have restructured the women's cricket at the junior level and we will have an U-16 tournament at the zonal level because I can tell you from my experience that it is not easy to get 15 players in every state association.
"So this year we will have zonal tournament for U-16. We already have a U-19 tournament and we have U-23 where they play One-day games and this year onwards they will play T20. We have a senior women's tournament where we have one-day games, three-day games and T20s. The U-19 girls also play two day games, so this is the structure we have decided for women's cricket under BCCI," he added.
Former India women's captain, Shubangi Kulkarni, also took part in the discussion.