NEW DELHI: Seems like the winds of change are here for Indian women’s cricket!
In a landmark move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s women’s cricket committee gave green light to players’ participation in the overseas leagues in Australia and England. Though it is subject to their contracts being approved by the board, this decision would certainly bolster women’s cricket.
In March, Express was the first publication to report about such a possibility, after the then BCCI secretary (who is the present board chief) Anurag Thakur told this newspaper that it was thinking of allowing the women cricketers to participate in overseas leagues. And on Wednesday, as the committee met to discuss the future of women’s cricket in the country, it decided to allow the Grade A cricketers to participate in the leagues organised by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA).
Though the board plans to include all the existing cricketers to be a part of the foreign leagues, the initial decision has been to allow top cricketers like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Thirush Kamini to participate in those leagues. “The foreign boards should approach the BCCI if they want to rope in a particular player, and then, we will take it from there,” a top BCCI official, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, told Express, adding that the final go-to plan will be laid out soon.
The announcement, however, has come a bit late for the Indian participation in the inaugural Women’s Super League (WSL), which will be conducted by the ECB from July 30 to August 14. Even though the ECB had sent letters to all Full Members seeking the permission to enlist the players, BCCI was still hesitant to take a call.
Even last year, Mithali and Jhulan were offered contracts in the Women’s Big Bash League, but with the BCCI not issuing no-objection certificates, their hopes were dashed. To make the inaugural WSL glittery, the ECB has signed up 18 overseas players from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.
But even then, this decision is significant enough for Indian cricket. While the board has decided to allow the women players participate in the events organised by the other boards, the men cricketers aren’t allowed to play in the other leagues. Perhaps that’s why the cricketing fraternity has hailed the board’s initiative. “It is definitely a great move. By allowing the players to play abroad, it will give us a fair chance about foreign conditions and how to handle things better. This will be a learning experience for us,” India captain Mithali told this newspaper.
With things finally changing, the women cricketers too have something to look forward to!