Women's cricket in India has witnessed a welcome rise over the past few years but the sport continues to be largely male-dominated. However, what can challenge the status quo further is the story of Navi Mumbai's Vrinda Rathi and Chennai’s N Janani.
The duo recently cleared BCCI’s Level 2 umpiring exam, which makes them eligible to officiate in national level matches in India, according to a report in Times of India. As a result of their qualification, the duo would be able to umpire in women’s cricket matches and junior boys’ matches across the country.
For Rathi, it was New Zealand women's umpire Kathy Cross, who inspired her to take the big step. Rathi started dreaming big only after watching Kathy during the Women's World Cup in 2013, where Rathi was working as a scorer. Since then, she appeared for local and state-level umpiring exams and has been officiating Mumbai Cricket Association matches.
The journey, however, wasn't easy. Rathi, who has played as a medium pacer for Mumbai University, had to sacrifice her weekends to officiate as many games as possible in order to prepare herself.
Reflecting on her journey, Rathi said, "Initially, there were unsubstantiated apprehensions about the quality that a woman umpire may bring in, when everyone around knows that you mean business at the center of the field, your gender does not matter," Rathi told Times of India.
Speaking to mid-day over her achievement, Rathi said Ranji Trophy and international matches are still far for her but she would like to reach there in future.
"Only the top 40 umpires in India can do that. But yes, I would love to officiate in international games. If I get a chance, I'll do well. I know it will take several years but would like to achieve that," Rathi told mid-day.
We hope Rathi and Janani will inspire more women to come forward and participate in the game.