Should Women’s cricket in India become mainstream?
Cricket being India’s most sought after sport and with cricketers being household names in India, it is high time this is extended to the women’s team as well. A recent television advertisement for the Women’s T20 World Cup showed a lady asking a sports shop owner for the other Sharma’s cricket jersey when given one with “Rohit” printed on it. She’s laughed at for not knowing cricket and she responds with a photo of Deepti Sharma, also an Indian cricketer.
With gender neutrality being one of the commonly spoken subjects across the globe, it is time we have names of women cricketers as a part of the cricket conversation so commonplace in India. To the gender-neutral “batter”, now recognised by even the keeper of the laws of cricket, being used regularly. The promo for the first-ever Women’s Premier League (WPL) follows a similar theme.
This inclusion may seem basic for the women’s version of the high-profile IPL. But that’s the start. The Women’s Premier League is being played in India from the 4th of March to the 26th of March. A lot of high profile players across the globe are participating in it with some Indian names like Smriti Mandhana grabbing eyeballs with million dollar deals. The money and media, team owners and sponsors are already here, but the big hope is for WPL to establish women’s cricket in the mainstream discourse of the sport.
The league has witnessed a high level of competition and some exciting matches in the first two days of commencement. Away from the headlines and hashtags, into the heartland of India’s cricket crazy fan following. The ones that are often found analysing yesterday’s match, the ones that make memes about it, the kids who try to shadow bat and bowl while walking to school, or even the adults who critique believing they could have played better.
But for the players and the long-time followers of the women’s game, the WPL stands for so much more. It’s real, tangible proof that there’s scope for women’s cricket to be part of the big time. That there is depth and talent in all corners of the country, something so often used as an excuse to delay this very league. That there is a market and monetary backing for the women too; another common argument against it. Three of the five franchises already have men’s IPL teams, which means there is a ready fanbase there.
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