Ratnakar Shetty pointed out that the International Cricket Council is streamlining the cricket calendar for women to ensure there are more international games. Rediff.com's Harish Kotian listens in.
India may have lost in the final at the Women’s ODI World Cup in England earlier this year, but the team’s excellent showing in the tournament was a huge fillip for the sport in the country, believes Ratnakar Shetty, in-charge of the Board of Control for Cricket in India women’s cricket.
“In the ODI world Cup in England recently the girls played some outstanding cricket and suddenly there was a lot of enthusiasm among the journalist fraternity, something not seen earlier. And because of the matches being shown on television, girls like Mithali (Raj) became household names; someone like Harmanpreet (Kaur) is equivalent to a men’s cricketer and that gives us great joy,” added Shetty, who is also the BCCI’s Game Development Manager, at the 40th National Convention of the Sports Journalists’ Federation of India, in Thiruvananthapuram, on Monday.
“The other countries were not happy that the broadcaster gave a lot of importance to India’s matches, but India is a country which has a huge viewership.
“About popularizing women’s cricket, we suggested that India should win the World Cup. They reached very close to that; we could have done it but the pressure got the better of the girls. Nevertheless, women’s cricket is here to stay and BCCI has also realised it,” he added.
The veteran administrator also pointed out that the International Cricket Council is streamlining the cricket calendar for women to ensure there are more international games.
“We are now planning to have a FTP at the international level, like the men’s team, for ODIs and T20s and that is working out well. Don’t go by the quantity of matches but go by the fact that we will be playing better teams in the next two years and our girls will get a chance to compete at that level.”
Shetty informed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has also restructured junior women’s cricket to allow the younger players more opportunities.
“We have restructured the women’s cricket at the junior level and we will have an Under-16 tournament at the zonal level because I can tell you from my experience that it is not easy to get 15 players in every state association. It is the responsibility of the parents also to come out and support the young girls at that age.
“So this year we will have zonal tournament for Under-16; we already have an Under-19 tournament where they play One-day games; we have Under-23 where they play One-day games and this year onwards they will play T20s. We have a senior women’s tournament where we have one-day games, three-day games and T20s.
“The Under-19 girls also play two day games. So this is the structure we have decided for women’s cricket under BCCI.”
Former India captain and BCCI women’s cricket committee member Shubhangi Kulkarni also stressed on the need for the Board to organize more matches at the junior level.
“We all believe that if a player wants to play and if she is given an opportunity at a young age she will continue playing the sport.”
She went on to add that more girls are being drawn to the sport after India’s good run at the World Cup and expressed hope that the interest continues to grow.