Our women are not in the crore-bracket in their respective contracts, yet. They are not too regular in advertisements either, but they silently do the hard yard like any other cricketer in the international system.
A World Cup victory can perhaps turn the tide.
The eves were close to beating England in the 50-over World Cup three years ago, however, they lost by nine runs, and amid a fallout between then coach Ramesh Powar and senior batswoman Mithali Raj, their ICC World T20 campaign in 2018 ended in the semifinal.
Come February 21, a fresh Indian side will step into the field to complete the unfinished business. And this time, under the supervision of former India international W.V. Raman. Sportstar caught up with the India women’s cricket team coach on the sidelines of the Aces Awards 2020 in Mumbai.
The ICC Women’s World T20 is just next month, and it is your first big assignment. Are you happy with the team selection?
I think the best have been picked, and along those lines, there is nothing much to speak about. These girls have been working hard over the last six to seven months in terms of fitness and skills. They are beginning to understand their cricket better, which is important, and as far as the World T20 is concerned, we do have a tri-series [involving England and Australia] before the tournament. We will get enough opportunities to practice and play matches in Australia — which is where the World Cup is going to take place — and that’s an advantage.
What’s the key to succeed in such high-pressure tournaments? What would you tell your team?
At the end of the day, what will matter is, as to how well or what we do on those key days in a major competition. There is no saying who is going to do what. We need to look at doing as well as we can every single day we take the field. And then, we have to improvise and adapt to whatever the demands of the situation are.
Earlier, women’s teams had set players; like we had Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami for so many years. But these days, every year, at least two to three new faces — for example Richa Ghosh, Shafali Varma, Jemimah Rodrigues — are coming up. How do you look at the growth of the game among women?
The game is definitely going to grow among the girls. You will see a lot more girls taking up cricket. The way things are, and the way it will happen in the future, the girls will also feel that cricket can be a career option. You will find a lot more new cricketers in the fold. You will see a lot of new names announcing themselves and pushing themselves to get into the senior side or the A side or the emerging side, and that is going to make it competitive which is good for the overall health of the system.
Smriti Mandhana received the Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket) award at the Aces for the second time in a row. How do you assess her journey in the last two years?
She is a very thoughtful cricketer. She knows her game well and she is also a good thinker of the game. The best part about her is that she doesn’t really think too much about too many things. She keeps it simple.
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