Rohit Sharma has been in form. Risbah Pant has been playing the part of the finisher with a sense of astuteness. That dazzling six over cover by SKY on Alzarri Joseph was perhaps the highlight so far. All this and more from Indian Men’s team’s tour to the West Indies and now, the United States where the final leg of the T20I’s are to be played.
Nothing’s wrong with that. Nothing must be doubted; our men’s team has knocked the socks off the hosts, West Indies (a team they drubbed 3-nil in the recent ODI’s).
But a complete dearth of content about the performances of the Indian women’s cricket team? And that too, when the unit have made their way into the semi finals of the ongoing Commonwealth games 2022?
In an ideal world, the headlines that perhaps the idealist would have expected would read the following:
Smriti Madhana’s dazzling knock versus Pakistan ladies! Harmanpreet’s brilliant diving catch in the Barbados game! Jemimah’s rescue act that notched up her 21st T20 international fifty and, Renuka Singh’s glorious returns of 4 for 10 against the Barbados women!
Alas, equality and fairness are still very much the pitch-perfect phrases used often on a powerpoint slider and happen to exist only in a utopian world.
Truth is, the Indian women’s cricket team has has been playing an inspirational brand of cricket in a series that the world is following intrepidly.
After losing out to the Australians, the mighty Aussies that they are, the Indian women’s cricket team has been on the charge. And that, very much, is the truth.
They knocked over archrivals Pakistan, which was just days ago; Bismah Maroof’s team having little answers to a combined team effort that derailed the sub-continental force’s forward march in the series. Later, under Harmanpreet Kaur’s inspirational leadership, the Indian women’s cricket team beat the blues out of the strong Barbadian line-up that featured the recently retired Deandra Dottin, Aliyah Alleyne, Shekira Selman, Shamilia Connell and Hayley Matthews.
And where it stands now, the Indian women’s cricket team with not one but six
(which is essentially, half the side) in-form players in Mandhana, Deepti, Renuka, Meghna and Shafali are all set to face the semi finals.
But while a general lack of representation of the Indian women’s cricket in national press as also in international media is but normal, what’s starkly disturbing is that there was hardly a word about the captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s brilliant captaincy; a leadership effort that culminated in 42 T20 international wins, the most by an Indian cricket captain, irrespective of whether men’s or women’s cricket.
When India beat Pakistan on August 1, 2022, Harmanpreet Kaur collected her 42nd victory as the T20I captain of the side (from 71 games). While this may seem a simple stat to some, in reality, it is anything but; in so doing, the Moga-born Punjab cricketer overtook none other than MS Dhoni’s record (having once leveled it with 41 wins).
Which precisely brings us to question whether similar treatment would be meted out to any member of the men’s game had such an outstanding captaincy feat would’ve been reached?
In between all of this, a slew of amazing performances from the Indian camp have shaped the team’s form and being: Renuka Singh has become the first cricketer ever from India to pick up two consecutive four-wicket-hauls in T20 internationals.
Not to forget that Jemimah Rodrigues who did repair the innings against the Bajan side, reached her second T20I fifty, which took her twenty one innings.
And yet, there was nothing or very little that came to light on such vital performances that have today ushered the team to the forefront of women’s cricket in the Commonwealth games of 2022.
For how long will occasional or lone voices have to stand up to drive attention to the culture of positivism that is the Indian women’s cricket team?
Where are those frequent spurters of cricketing wisdom with little or no cricketing experience, who have today hijacked our Cricket TV channels with catchy one-liners about the sport that are perhaps as cringe as their yellow shoes paired with green jackets or when not, then white shoes with pink jackets?
Where are the men and women who offer themselves as being mouthpieces of purity in journalism, those who claim to rally behind Women’s Cricket in a radically changing age where Cricket content is becoming more about where Kohli, Pandya or Bumrah partied last night and less about the grassroots development of the sport in a cricket-obsessed India?