Uncertain about future, India players opt for invitational tournaments to be match-fit
Some time ago, in a virtual press conference, West Indies coach Courtney Walsh talked about a possible tour to India. The Women in Blue are also likely to tour Sri Lanka ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers in the Island nation which is slated in July. A series against South Africa is also on the line. The BCCI domestic season is also likely to commence in February-March.
The above statements are mere speculations as some of the Indian players are still uncertain about the exact date when they will return to action on a full-fledged basis. The last time India played in an international match was in the final of the T20 World Cup in March 2020.
“It is likely to be a full-fledged domestic season for women and there will be finally some cricket for our international stars with Sri Lanka and South Africa coming to India,” a BCCI official said during the Apex Council meeting earlier in the month.
At a time, when the countries like Pakistan, South Africa, England, West Indies, Australia, New Zealand have all started international cricket in the post-COVID-19 era, the Indian stars have chosen to hang their fate on the word ‘likely’ until one morning they get some good news from the headquarters.
“We are hoping there is light at the end of this tunnel but this tunnel is very, very long,” former India captain Anjum Chopra was quoted as saying to The Quint. “Most of the women’s teams across the world have gone back to the game. The Bangladesh women’s team is also back in a camp, England has announced their domestic T20 competition, and Australia played their Women’s Big Bash League.”
“Everyone is playing but the Indian team has been kept waiting. When is their international, or even a domestic tournament, going to take place?” Chopra had questioned. But our stars aren’t sitting home idle. In a first of its kind, the India stars, as well as the locals, have gone back to the invitational club-level tournaments to keep themselves match-fit.
The practice started Sheela Sridhar Rangaswamy Memorial tournament in September which included top stars like Veda Krishnamurthy playing a pivotal role in Cosmic Cricket Academy’s triumph. Following that, Sikkim organised Khangchendzonga Shield – the first-ever all-women tournament in the state where around 60 players – amateur and professionals – divided into four teams were in action.
The success of the tournaments led to a bigger picture when a host of India internationals took part in the Falcons Sports Club Golden Jubilee T20 Tournament in Bengaluru earlier this month under the tutelage of former India skipper Shantha Rangaswamy, the matches of which was live-streamed in Women’s CricZone YouTube channel.
“It’s really good to be back on the field because that’s what we love doing. The long break was unexpected but the tournament turned out to be really good considering it was organised really well, the facilities that were offered to us, the entire infrastructure was also very beautiful,” out-of-contention India international MD Thirushkamini told this website.
The senior #BengalWomen‘s camp began today at the BCA Ground in Kalyani. 30 women cricketers of Bengal and seven support staff will be in bio-bubble for the next three weeks as the squad prepares for the domestic season ahead.#CAB pic.twitter.com/OX37QglaUF
— CABCricket (@CabCricket) January 20, 2021
“And because at a time when we’re looking to come back, getting that kind of a tournament was wonderfully done.” To add to that, an invitational tournament – ML Kala Memorial Women’s Cricket Series – is underway at the Manya Cricket Academy and StarNext Cricket Academy between Agra XI versus Invitation XI where India’s premier leggie Poonam Yadav is plying her trade.
Even Odisha Cricket Association is organising a six-team T20 and 50-overs tournament to prepare its players and for the selection purpose for the upcoming season. Talks are also on that the Cricket Association of Bengal might host a women’s T20 tournament. Even, Pune is also hosting a Women’s Premier League which has already started on January 22.
As current BCCI selection committee member Mithu Mukherjee has clearly emphasised on the state associations to organize their own women’s league, it is the need of the hour for everyone to come together and make women’s cricket a regular affair just like their male counterparts have throughout the year. Hope it happens soon.