In two weeks, both the men’s and women’s senior cricket teams will jointly depart to England, to play in away tours in that nation. While they will fly together, the uniform treatment will end there. There are multiple points that support this. For starters, the men have continued to play cricket during the pandemic either at home (IPL, England) or away (IPL, Australia) since the pandemic hit last year. The women? Not so much. In that same time, the women’s side, since making the World T20 finals, has played in a largely tokenistic four-match T20 exhibition event in Sharjah apart from two limited overs series against South Africa at home in March.
Even keeping aside the fact that the women’s team has proved to be more successful when compared to its male counterpart across major ICC events in recent times—two finals and one semifinal when compared to three semifinals—it’s incongruous to note that the women are without central contracts from last September. While the men were handed new contracts in April, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has kept mum so far with respect to the women. Customised Covid tests and lack of it, the list looks endless.
That’s before you come to the point about axing W V Raman, a popular man in the dressing room by all accounts, as chief coach of the women’s team. He took the team to last year’s T20 final in Australia and saw his charges go without any cricket for a year before South Africa came to India. A few questionable selection calls—reports indicate Raman did not have a role to play here—and he was replaced by Ramesh Powar, who had met a similar end during his first innings. Powar, who took the team to the semifinal of the T20 World Cup in 2018, even had a high-profile falling out with Mithali Raj. So why the mixed messaging? Why remove a popular man who brought success? The ways of the Indian cricket board are generally shrouded in mystery and the reasons are at times bizarre.But the way the women’s game has been governed is particularly outrageous and definitely not ideal.