The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the game’s apex body, shifted a match of the Women’s World Cup (beginning January 31) from Wankhede Stadium to accommodate the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Mumbai beginning today. The World Cup tie between India and the West Indies will now be played at the Brabourne Stadium. The Maharasthra Cricket Association (MCA) was keen to use Wankhede for the final of the Ranji Trophy.
With some uncertainly over venues still swirling with the Pakistan team’s participation in the tourney, it is still vital to note that an International Cricket Council (ICC) match, the prestigious World Cup was shifted to accommodate a domestic tournament. This is not to comment on whether the Wankhede is better or the Brabourne, but only begs one question: if it was a men’s World Cup match scheduled at Wankhede and clashing with the Ranji Trophy final, would it have been shifted?
This also sends a wrong message to women cricketers who are already bitter about being consistently relegated to second class status, when it comes to other aspects. While they and cricket experts would be the first to admit that women’s matches would not draw in as many spectators as men’s matches, it does not justify shifting a World Cup match venue. This proves that all the talk about equality is merely lip service. It also comes at a bad time for India as internationally too, the country’s image with regard to women already having taken a hammering with the Delhi gang rape grabbing headlines globally. While that may seem an extreme and somewhat unrelated comparison, it is no doubt that the world’s eyes are on India. There were plenty of disparaging comments on a prominent cricket website when it was reported that the venue has been changed because of the Ranji Trophy. Shame, screamed some of the responses. We have to agree to that.