Former India women’s captain Diana Edulji took another shot at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) through a plea yesterday.
“It’s my humble request to people: Please respect women’s cricket as a game. We can’t play mixed doubles like in badminton or tennis. But if you see the performance of the teams playing in the ongoing Women’s World Cup, we play with grace.
“The BCCI constitution says cricket. There is no differentiation of men’s and women’s cricket. While the men players enjoy pension benefits, they (BCCI) are not even ready to give us a one-time settlement. Even our records of how many Test matches we have played have gone missing.
No Test records
“Half the Test matches we played suddenly disappeared from the records. I don’t know why the BCCI couldn’t take the records from the earlier women’s body. If former Prime Ministers — Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi could approve of our achievements, they were surely official matches we played. But even those matches are not reflected in the records,” said a dejected Edulji at the Cricket Club of India where she released former India women’s cricketer Shobha Pandit Mundkar’s autobiography.
A few weeks ago, ESPN Cricinfo reported that Edulji felt the BCCI is not interested in running women’s cricket beyond paying “lip service”.
The discrimination, according to Edulji, extended to complimentary passes given by the Board. “For the Men in Blue, each player gets two passes of the plum Garware stand. But for us, they will give one pass per player in the Divecha Stand as a formality. Every step we go, there is a hurdle awaiting us. For men (cricketers), their drivers and peons pick up passes. But we need to be present in person to collect the passes. They even ask us to fill up a form to check if we have played for the state or country. It’s such a shame,” Edulji remarked.
Edulji, who was on the BCCI’s women’s committee, blasted the game’s administrators for gender bias when she was manager of the Indian team. “During the 2009 T20 World Cup in England, we faced a lot of difficulties. We flew Economy and had a halt in Dubai while the men travelled business class in a direct flight to London. The differences were apparent. After the men crashed out of the tournament and we reached the semi-finals of the event, the media came to cover us. There were restrictions for the team as if we were school children. Sharad Pawar (former president) was the only saving grace. The treatment towards us changed once he was not in power,” she added.
The BCCI took women’s cricket under its wings in 2006 as per the International Cricket Council’s guidelines. But things have gone from bad to worse, felt Edulji. “Women are not allowed to play Test matches. Board has a wrong perception that women can’t play more than 45 overs. I think we are playing lesser cricket after we joined BCCI. If not for the ICC, women’s cricket would have gone in doldrums.”