Slowly, women cricketers are getting their due but need sustained support across media to stay in the spotlight like their male counterparts
It’s a typical Sunday inside a typically middle-class housing society. With the exams of some schools having wrapped up, kids of all sizes and shapes had taken over the central garden space. Yells, shrieks, shouts and laughter filled the air. One took a scan of the goings-on, and the eyes halted at the section from where the maximum noise emerged. Much to my surprise, a bunch of girls — eight to 12 year-olds — were at it, playing a game of tennis ball cricket. Two hours later, the games continued. Cricket terms, fielding positions, delivery options, and even a Dil-Scoop (yes!) were heard and spotted. Sheer coincidence that the final of the women’s World T20 final was being played out at the same time or a sweet discovery of a possibly changing scenario made one smile.
West Indies cricketers celebrate after winning Women’s World T20 final in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/AFP
Fans of the game — male and female — would agree somewhat that the simultaneous holding of the women’s edition with the men, is a blessing and a curse. While ‘The gentlemen’s game’ continues to draw in crowds (even if it’s an encounter that includes the UAE), we could count the number of spectators at Eden Gardens for the maiden title that the West Indian women won. It was a historic moment as they humbled four-time finalists, the mighty Australian Southern Stars. Towards the end of that final, we spotted crowds trickle in. Why? Because the men’s final was to follow. The sparse stands and lack of hype and awareness for the women’s game are perennial challenges for the women’s game. On a lighter note, we would have loved to read about the HABs (Husbands and Boyfriends!) who might be travelling with their cricket-playing wives and girlfriends or cool tidbits like how the West Indian women team do a groovy pep-up dance before each game.
But it isn’t just a bleak picture. For some like yours truly, television has given us the wonderful chance to watch these women superstars in full flow. It’s also been fair off the field — we listened with intent as former women cricketers gave us pitch reports, and shared equal air time on commentary panels at the grounds and in the box. It was refreshing. What better time than the world cup to see this shift, albeit a gradual one.
One hopes that coming editions of the world cup will see increased coverage for women’s cricket – from hailing their achievements, their remarkable back stories, and giving them their equal mileage. Imagine a few international and Indian women cricketers walk down the ramp at a fashion show to loud applause after a hard fought game the previous night. That will be the day.
mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones... wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana. Send your feedback to mailbag @mid-day.com