The year was 1983. The 3rd edition of the Cricket World Cup was going on and the Indian team, playing in England, was making some noise.
Kapil Dev hit a mammoth 175 against Zimbabwe, a big win against Australia, and the team made it to the finals. What an achievement it was, from being minnows to locking horns with the Caribbean giants in the finals. And then, India won! Upstaging the Calypso Kings, the Indian lions brought home unprecedented laurels for the first time in it’s cricketing history.
Nothing could have set the tone for catapulting the status of cricket as a religion in India, the way the iconic picture of Kapil Dev holding the prized trophy in the Lords’ balcony did. Since then, the fanfare, fandom and love for cricket has flourished knowing no bounds. Each era is studded with iconic moments and larger-than-life characters adding new dimensions to the game.
Today, the year is 2017. Once more, a Cricket World Cup is going on. And once more, the Indian Team, playing in England, is making some noise.
Mithali Raj hit a flamboyant century, amassing the highest numbers of runs in (Women’s) ODI cricket, leading the team to a massive win against New Zealand, helping the team make it to the semi finals against Australia.
Thanks to the live coverage and broadcast of the Women ODI World Cup on television, cricket lovers got a chance to watch these valiant ladies in action and gorge on an excellent cricketing treat. Be it run machine Mithali Raj’s engaging consistency or Deepti Sharma’s classy all-round skills; no cricket lover would like to miss out on such awe-inspiring action and breathtaking moments. But alas, till now, the public had been deprived of all of this, due to the lack of proper promotion, advertisement and broadcasting by the authorities.
What was the use of hosting the 2013 Women’s ODI WC, and 2016 ICC Women’s World T20, when people were hardly made to know about it? This was in great contrast to the fanfare bestowed on the male team’s World Cup outings. The ‘Bleed Blue’ Fanfare, the mauka mauka ads, and all witty catch phrases buzzing within earshot were everywhere. What is the use of male cricketers sporting the names of their Mothers behind their jerseys, while the daughters of the country strive on the field in anonymity?
The female Indian cricket team’s anonymity is our loss, not theirs. These ladies, have won against one of the biggest hurdles of gender stereotypes in the country. They will hopefully, keep winning against rival teams on the field and bring laurels to the nation with their devotion and commitment. It is me, the cricket lover, and those unfortunate cricket fans who don’t even know about it, who missed the country’s glorious journey to the finals of 2005 WC.
In this regard, the broadcast of this Women’s WC is a much needed radical move for the world of cricket.
As I write this article a few hours before the start of semi-final match between India and Australia, I badly wish for an encore of 1983 breakthrough. Yes, I know it is too much to ask. I know, we as the countrymen who they represent on the field, don’t deserve this. But then, this is how we treat our athletes, by becoming conscious all of a sudden of the medal-population ratio during Olympics, and giving them a cold shoulder before and after the event.
I don’t know what shall be the outcome of the game, but I feel lucky to have the domain of my fandom extended from Men in Blue, to both Men and Women in Blue. I love the Indian Women Team, and my love shall not wane with the conclusion of the World Cup, irrespective of the results.
So, my dear ladies, all our wishes and support with you and all the best for your last two matches of this World Cup.
We are proud of you.