Recently the ‘Women in Blue’ made the whole country proud when they reached the finals of T20 World Cup 2020. This was a big achievement and this achievement was witnessed by 9.02 million fans in India and in fact, the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup became the second most-watched cricket event after the 2019 ODI Men World Cup. These numbers are a testament to the growth, Indian Women Cricket Team has had over the past few years.Embed from Getty Images
The first Women’s Test Match took place in 1934 between England and Australia but it took the women in blue 42 years more to play their first-ever test match. The Women’s Cricket Association of India was formed in 1973 and in the year 1976, they played their first test match against West Indies and it took them 2 more years to record their first test win which was against the same nation.
Since then, India has played 36 Test Matches and India has won 5, lost 6 and drawn 25 of them. Sandhya Agarwal boasts the most runs by an Indian Women in Test Cricket having 1,110 runs at an average of 50.45. Diana Edulji tops the wicket-taking chart in Tests having 63 wickets to her name. India last played a Test Match in 2014 because of the paucity of viewers coming to watch the match and from then, it has been a general notion that Women’s Test Cricket is dying a fast death due to lack of viewers.
Let’s move to ODI. Interestingly, India took its first steps in the ODI format in the 1978 World Cup only of which they were the host of too! They lost all three of the matches they played in that World Cup. Since then, Women in Blue have had quite a journey. They have taken part in 9 ODI World Cups and have been the runner up twice, in 2005 and 2017. They were also the semi-finalists in the 1997 and 2000 ODI World Cup.Embed from Getty Images
The Indian team has fared exceptionally well in the Asia Cup. Asia Cup was conducted in the ODI format from 2004 to 2008 and in the four Asia Cups that took place in that time, India was the champion in all four with Sri Lanka being the runners up in all four of them!
Since 1978, they have played 272 ODI matches and have won 151, lost 116, drawn 4, and tied 1 match. Mithali Raj has been the spearhead for India in ODI having 6,888 runs to her name at a phenomenal average of 50.64! No one is even close to her! The second-highest run-scorer in ODI is Anjum Chopra who has 2856 runs to her name at an average of 31.38. Jhulan Goswami leads our wicket-taking charts having 225 wickets to her name.Embed from Getty Images
As of 19/06/2020, the Women in Blue are ranked 2nd in the ICC ODI team rankings. When it comes to the player rankings, they have one batsman in the top 10 in the form of Smriti Mandhana and 3 bowlers in the top 10 in the form of Poonam Yadav, Jhulan Goswami, and Shikha Pandey and then 2 all-rounders in the top 10 in Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey.
Let’s talk about the ever-growing format- T20.
India played its first T20 match in 2006 against England. Since then it have played 123 T20 matches, won 67, lost 54 and there was no result for 2 of them. The first T20 World Cup happened in 2009 and India was the semi-finalist in that year. They also went to the semi-finals in 2010 and 2018 but the best result which you may know now is when they reached the finals of the T20 World Cup 2020. Asia Cup of 2012, 2016, and 2018 were of T20 format and India has been the champions in the first two and runners up in the 2018 version where they lost to Bangladesh.
Currently, India stands at the 4th spot in the ICC T20 Rankings. When it comes to player rankings, they have 3 batsmen in the top 10 who are Shafali Verma at the 3rd position, Smriti Mandhana at 7th and Jemimah at 9th. Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, and Poonam Yadav are our three bowlers in the top 10 while Deepti Sharma is our sole all-rounder in the top 10 all-rounder rankings.Embed from Getty Images
Mithali Raj reigns supreme here too in the run-scoring charts having 2364 runs under her belt at an average of 37.52 with Harmanpreet narrowly behind with 2186 runs. Harmanpreet is the only Indian women cricketer who has scored a century in T20. Poonam Yadav is the boss in the wicket-taking list having 95 wickets with the second-best being Jhulan Goswami at 56 wickets.
Talking about Mithali Raj and T20, one of the nasty spats in Indian Cricket History happened in 2018 between Mithali Raj and the then coach- Ramesh Powar. Mithali wrote a letter to BCCI where she alleged that as they landed in West Indies, she felt that Ramesh Powar was being unfair and discriminatory to her. She cited an example as to how Ramesh would walk off if she is sitting anywhere around or how he chose to walk away when she came to bat in the nets or looking at the phone when she tried to get him to talk. Seeing all this, a meeting was organized but according to Mithali, the situation became worse after the meeting and said that after the meeting, Ramesh didn’t even acknowledge her. She was asked to bat in the middle order rather than the preferred opening spot. Things escalated when Mithali was left out of the playing 11 in the semi-final against England despite scoring fifties and getting the man of the match awards in the rest two matches of the tournament.
Ramesh Powar replied in return that she was kept in the middle order because of her slow rate of scoring which according to him was highlighted by Mithali’s innings of 56 off 51 balls against Ireland. Powar said that in the practice games, Mithali Raj wasn’t scoring quickly and wasn’t showing intent. He also alleged that Mithali had threatened to go home if not given a chance to open the innings. He also revealed that Mithali Raj was aloof and difficult to handle which lead to the strained relationship between them.
Later when it came to retaining Ramesh as the coach, the T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and the senior batsman, Smriti Mandhana requested Ramesh Powar to be retained as a coach despite the controversy.
In the end, it was WV Raman who went on to become the coach after Ramesh’s tenure expired on November 30. WV Raman is currently the head coach with Narendra Hirwani the spin bowling coach. The support staff is completed by Tracy Fernandes as a Physiotherapist, Afjal Khan as Fitness Trainer and Aarti Nalge as the analyst.Embed from Getty Images
The Women’s Cricket Association of India which was formed in 1973 was merged with the BCCI in 2006.
BCCI awards contract similar to the one awarded in men’s cricket. Players in the Grade A contract are given 50 lakh per annum, Grade B get 30 lakh per annum whereas the Grade C players receive 10 lakh per annum. It has always been a fiery debate that whether our women in blue deserve more than what they get.
Mithali Raj who reigns supreme when it comes to stats is the captain in the Test and ODI format with Harmanpreet handling the responsibility in T20. We the team of Yorker World wish Indian Women Cricket a bright future ahead!
Featured Image:- Prime Minister’s Office (GODL-India) / GODL-India (https://data.gov.in/sites/default/files/Gazette_Notification_OGDL.pdf)
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