KOLKATA: The International Cricket Council’s quarterly board meeting got underway in Kolkata on Sunday with India women’s captain Mithali Raj opening the second annual women’s forum.
During her speech at the meeting being held at Oberai Grand, Mithali reflected how the women’s game has gained momentum in the last year and urged the body to take it further.
There is a growing belief within the ICC that the women’s game has gained enough popularity and it is viable for the sponsors to invest in future events. It is understood that during the meeting, several voices have called for the women’s global tournaments to be held separately as against the existing practice of playing alongside the men’s event citing the 50-over World Cup, which happened to be one of the most watched event.
Though the ICC has only adopted this practice for WT20s and bilateral series, if both men and women are simultaneously playing, there is a possibility that such numbers might come down. In fact, there is also a proposal to have the men’s and women’s team travel together for bilateral series alone, but ICC events are likely to be held separately. It was also one of the areas that Mithali touched during her speech. “Double-headers were important at first but no matter how good women’s cricket is, it was always overshadowed by the men. At a stand-alone tournament you ‘own the stage’ and it’s another opportunity to promote the game on a larger platform,” Raj said.
It is reliably learnt that with the number of televised matches getting higher by the day, there are also concerns of bookies making inroads into the women’s game. Though no such instances have been reported so far in any women’s cricket, the game’s gaining popularity among Indian television audience and world over has raised concerns. The ICC’s ACSU is looking to bring more awareness and vigilance among women’s team as they fear bookies might target them given the pay cap, which is significantly lower than men’s team. Apart from the women’s team, they are also looking to make the U-19 cricketers more aware as an internal report of the ICC seems to have revealed that the bookies are likely to target them as they are bound to be vulnerable at a young age.
“It is a cause of concern when the sport gets popularity. The ACSU has been doing a terrific job and all of it is part of that as it is always better to have a plan in place and make the players aware rather than react later. With the U19 boys there are concerns that the bookies will try and catch them young. So once we make them understand what has to be done if someone approaches at a young age, the players will know how ro react in such situations” an official present at the meeting told Express.