The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) organised a special felicitation ceremony for the Indian women’s crikcet team in New Delhi on Thursday. BCCI presented each squad member with a cheque of Rs 50 lakh while the support staff were handed 25 lakh each. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, skipper Mithali Raj expressed satisfaction over the performance of her side throughout the tournament and said that the grand reception back home has left her overwhelmed. “Seeing the love and affection that the women’s cricket is getting and the reception we are getting is overwhelming. Earlier, in 2005 we did not have such a reception, but now things have changed.”
Mithali also reiterated that nowadays cricket has gained popularity with the shorter formats but the ultimate grind of Test must not be forgotten. “Test matches are the ultimate test for cricketers. Women’s cricket has got promotion but mostly through T20s and ODIs so now it is time to play Tests as well,” Mithali said and added, “I feel the frequency of Test matches should be at par with shorter formats.”
Meanwhile, teammate Harmanpreet Kaur, who scored a brilliant 171 in the semis, spoke about the importance of playing in the BBL and how it can benefit cricketers in India. “Playing in the big bash was a big achievement for me and it helped me perform in the World Cup. Like Smriti and I, hopefully, others will also get a chance. I hope this season they get a chance, the rest depends on the performance. In India, an IPL would also be beneficial for the cricketers in our country.”
Speaking about the development of the game skipper Mithali Raj recalled her struggles during the 90’s and stated that facilities have improved now thanks to various stakeholders coming together and taking the game forward. “I was fortunate to study in a school which had a team and an infrastructure so I got a chance to play. Nowadays schools should encourage sports as they have developed facilities. Today academies are also lenient as they give admissions to girls and encourage them. Back in the 90’s I had to face a lot of problems while enrolling in academies. But nowadays people are much more aware of the sport, so it is not much of an issue. State associations are also running camps (summer camps) and this is helping in grooming several players.
When asked if she sees anyone from the current side take up her role in the future, she said, “I think as a player grows she gains experience and each one is a leader in their own aspect. You never know where destiny takes them. But this bunch of players have the ability to lead and face challenges whenever it is given to them. This was seen in the efforts that they put in the tournament and I am proud of each of them.”