Cricket is often marketed as a ‘gentlemen’s game’ which has its own gods and heroes. Countries like India play, promote and make a profit out of this ‘men’s game.’ But the fact is that we also have ‘goddesses’ in cricket who play internationally. What is the history of women’s cricket in India? How did women’s cricket establish its own space in the gentlemen’s game?
Even though the first women’s test match was played between Australia and England in 1934, it took many more years for women’s cricket to enter India. The Women’s Cricket Association’s establishment in India in 1973 gave confidence and courage for many aspiring female cricketers to pull up the socks and enter the ground. In the same year, WACI became a member of the International Women’s Cricket Counsel (IWCC). This had accelerated the domestic women’s cricket and the next five years witnessed many matches and new tournaments, giving the women’s cricket in India an identity of its own.
The Indian women’s national cricket team played their first match in 1976 at Bangalore against West Indies. With both sides winning one game each, the first test match was a draw. However, they registered their first test match victory two years after in 1978 against the West Indies under ShanthaRangaswamy. In the same year, the women in blue, as they are popularly known, made their ODI debut during the World Cup, hosted by India. During the WC, the women’s team played their first ODI under the captaincy of Diana Edulji against England at Eden Gardens, Calcutta. In the 1970s and 1980s, India’s cricket team continued to grow, gathering the applauses of many audiences. In 1995, they won the first ODI series against New Zealand. The team’s journey was fabulous so far, where they made it into the World Cup finals in 2005 and 2017, even though they were not lucky enough to be the champions. Undoubtedly, we can say that women’s cricket in India is healthier than ever. Both in domestic and international platforms, they are making histories. Contemporary players like Mithali Raj, one of the best batters that the women’s game has ever seen, are further elevating the class and elegance of the Indian women’s cricket team internationally.