India’s vault to the future in women’s cricket begins with a T20 clash against England

In general, 2023 has been a significant year for Indian women’s cricket. A selection of promising players received professional contracts during the Women’s Premier League (WPL) franchise tournament, which staged its first edition. In addition, the BCCI declared that it will make the first step toward pay parity by paying women’s match fees on par with those of males.

It was also the year that India went 11 months without a head coach, missing out on a T20 World Cup, an away series against Bangladesh, and a home series against Australia. India has 18 bilateral series matches on its schedule for 2023, which is one more than England has been assigned, but fewer than the four countries in the top four, Australia (25), South Africa (25), and New Zealand (20), the four teams alongside them in the top 5 of international rankings. They are participating in even less international games than they did last year (23).

Despite gaining parity in match payments, Indian women have played only a fraction of the number of matches the men’s team (47) has, and the value of their annual retainer contracts remains much lower than their male counterparts.

Despite evidently taking a few steps forward, some questions remain unanswered about the BCCI’s commitment to women’s cricket as they go into a big home season – three T20Is and a Test against England, and three T20Is, three ODIs and a Test against Australia – with new coach Amol Muzumdar at the helm.

When the schedules were revealed, eyebrows were raised because it seemed like a chance to promote the women’s game in different regions of the country was missed by hosting all 11 fixtures across two venues in Mumbai.

Even though the WPL was contested exclusively in Mumbai last year, the franchises were named after five different regions of India. The schedule, according to former India women’s coach WV Raman, should not be concerning. Instead, he believes that more international cricket at the highest level should be played.

“We are not privy to the thinking behind this decision. It’s a case of circumstances, about crunching time and keeping things within the right budget for all teams concerned.”

“The women’s game is already very popular. It might not seem so, perhaps because the women’s team’s schedule is not as busy as that of the men’s team. Fans want to see more women’s cricket. With big series, more international tournaments, and the WPL coming in, that (perception) will improve,” he added.

“Age-group cricket has existed at all levels for young boys, but for young girls, there is a gap there that needs to be closed. With India putting up teams in U-19 World Cups, there will be more uniformity at the domestic level. State associations will be creating and training age-group teams, which will increase playing opportunities,” he said.

India’s quest to creating a perhaps tournament-winning white-ball team starts on Wednesday. This is prior to of the T20 World Cup in September of next year in Bangladesh and the 2025 ODI World Cup on home soil, with a new coach taking over. It will be a time when participants’ sincere dedication to the game will be tested, not just by performance or media rights value but also by efforts to expand the game.

Source: TheIndianExpress

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