This is the 21st century. Today, we see women successful in every field. Women rights are stressed upon in each sector. The traditional / sexist notions about women being a second fiddle to a man have been abated or at least the oppression has started to rescind. In reality, things have not drastically changed but with each generation we see a better picture for the women. Yes, we still hear cases where certain misogynist people are enforcing their dated principles on women. This background was just to highlight how long we have had the women’s cricket team play under the shadow men’s team successes.
Personally, I am disappointed with myself being a cricket fan, I have not watched or followed women’s cricket before. Until this year where the world cup matches were broadcasted on Star Sports. I really enjoyed watching the women’s world cup 2017 (WWC 2017) more than the recently concluded Champions trophy (played by men). I am not sure whether the declining popularity of the Champions trophy has to do something with it. Since, I have not watched many women games before; I had absolutely no baggage.
Many reasons contributed to the new interest in women’s cricket. I have listed some of them below.
Role of ICC
ICC recently initiated a lot of activities for promotion of women’s cricket. WWC 2017 is the first world cup where every match was broadcasted live. WWC 2017’s total fund allocation was more than 2 times from the last edition. The ICC also announced plans for a blueprint to grow the women’s game, including proposals for further parity with men’s cricket. The world cricketing body taking such steps is crucial for the growth of this version of the sport.
The final which was a full house at Lord’s itself is a testament of the popularity of the game. This surely will go as a successful tournament for ICC.
Role of media
Cricket discussions are regular at my home and among my few close friends. Not only my close social circles but also water-cooler discussions at my office last few days have featured the WWC 2017. It was surprising that many people around me thought that this was the first women’s world cup. I had to correct them with the phrase – “this is the first broadcasted world cup”.
Although, media has more often than not come under the scanner for not doing their job but this WWC we can fairly say “Job well done”. Star Sports (including Hotstar) has a strong Indian fan base when it comes to cricket which has been extended by broadcasting key matches of this WWC. Even newspapers have not shied away from covering this tournament extensively.
Indian women cricket team
The likes of Anjum, Mithali, Raut and Jhulan have achieved a lot in last 2 decades. Yes, I only knew these names until this world cup. But now, we have a Mandhana who scores hundreds at the top, a certain Harmanpreet who bludgeons each ball she faces, Deepti Sharma who is an all-rounder, and the list is growing with each match. The recent performances have added a sense of excitement among all the fans. The team has shown their capability and skills, be it fast bowling, spin bowling, fielding and batting of course.
The entire team showed their performance across all the matches. The continuous winning streak in the first 4 matches raised a belief of qualifying in top 4 among the Indians. Though we lost in the finals, it gave the Indian team an experience in playing in a pressure situation which I feel we lacked until this tournament.
2017 is definitely the turning point for women’s cricket. It seems the cogs are in motion as the ICC is taking the required steps towards promoting their games. In India, advent of IPL helped popularize the sport among the kids and female community. We saw an exponential surge in the number of women following cricket. Another tipping point is in the offing when we see the same amount of participation by the fans for the women’s cricket team matches.
One might stretch our imagination and wonder whether a separate IPL for women will be a reality one day. It will definitely help scout for talent and push more girls towards cricket. Or whether the current version of IPL will be tweaked to incorporate women players? Some of the readers might have definitely raised their eyebrows. But who are we to stop them frankly? The ball has been set rolling.
We in India still have a long way in achieving the status like the Australian or English women. BCCI might as well study their model for cultivating a similar culture in India.
Cricket 361° strongly feels that women’s cricket has a promise both as a sport and as a business model. Also, we promise to provide more content on women’s cricket going forward. In case, some of you fancy writing on them, we are open to new ideas. Write for us.
Finally, the below tweet summarizes the popularity of WWC 2017 for India.
— Saurabh Somani (@saurabh_42) July 24, 2017
Hail all the women! Hail Cricket!