Gender Equality Is A Long Way Off Despite Women Playing Excellent Brand Of Cricket

If one says that Indian cricket is moving in the right direction, it does mean just men’s cricket. Recently, women cricketers were clearly on top throughout the one-off Pink ball Test in Australia, which eventually ended in a draw. It was very much evident that had it not been for the Rain Gods Indian team would have achieved what was impossible before the start of the Test, everybody was of the view that Indian women would struggle to hold fort even for a day. It is not easy playing a day and night Test as the ball moves prodigiously when the match enters the twilight zone, especially in Australia. Hence, it was nothing short of a miracle on the part of women cricketers to have put up such a valiant effort against a strong opposition without any exposure in the Day and Night affair. Despite such brilliant performances women’s cricket falls way behind men’s. 

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Women don’t play Test cricket very often unlike men, least of all the Pink ball version. They played a one-off Test in England a few months back which also they drew in a spectacular fashion. Before this, they played only one Test away from home in 2014 in which they beat England by six wickets. These outcomes indicate that the women team has performed well in limited opportunities offered to them and the BCCI, the game’s governing body needs to conduct more Test matches in the same category for the betterment of women’s game. These one-off affairs have to be turned at least into three-match contests interspersed with a day and night encounter. 

Anjum Chopra, Former India captain feels women cricketers should be made to play more regular Test matches before making them play in the Pink format. “The skills required to play the longer format are different. Most of these players are not used to playing with the red ball and now suddenly they are asked to play with the pink ball. It’s a nice step forward anyway,” said Chopra. Former Indian cricketer and ex-member of the Committee of Administrator, BCCI, Diana Edulji also echoed the same feeling when she said, “If other countries do not want to play Tests, then India, Australia and England should continue to play Tests. More players will come forward. We should go back to when we had the red-ball two-day games.”  

Apart from lack of exposure in Test matches, women cricketers also grapple with other challenges like unequal pay vis-a-vis men, which has been bridged to a large extent, and the absence of a marquee event like IPL etc. As for equal pay, it would take time for women to earn big like their male counterparts as the category is yet to evolve into a full-blown money-making avenue. In order to turn women’s cricket into a brand, a female version of IPL would be a good idea as ta first step. So, the BCCI needs to apply the effective template of Men’s category cricket in women’s cricket as well to popularise women’s games and achieve a semblance of gender parity in the world of cricket. The concept of attaining equality in cricket is still a work in progress but the right steps in the same direction can be taken now. 

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