2022 Rewind: Women’s cricket in India witnesses changes and announcements breaking the glass ceiling while the team makes rapid progress on the field.
The India women's cricket team has been scoring more aggressively than ever this year. Image credit: Twitter/@BCCI
The calendar hanging on your wall is about to lose its relevance and the year 2022 is about to end. For every walk of life, it’s time to plan for the next year, but also to reflect upon the last 12 months. But, what is reflection without measuring the progress made? Why rewind a year when milestones achieved are not recounted and compared to the past?
For anyone looking to do all this for women’s cricket in India, 2022 will surely leave you with a grin on your face. That’s rare for fans of women’s cricket in India, but 2022 has been the year rarest.
Equal pay and women’s IPL
After dragging its feet for years on changes that should have come at least half a decade ago, BCCI finally took the bait to usher in a new era in women’s cricket. In about 10 days time in October 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced decisions that are destined to change the face of women’s cricket not just in India, but globally.
On 18 October 2022, BCCI decided to do away with the sad exhibition tournament that was the Women’s T20 Challenge, which will now be replaced with a full-fledged professional Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) from 2023.
“The General Body approved to conduct the Women’s Indian Premier League,” BCCI’s release said.
Those 11 words consist in themselves power more than neutron stars in the context of the game.
The richest cricketing board starting its own franchise T20 league is the much-needed boost the sport needs. It guarantees eyeballs for matches, better infrastructure for the game, and sustainable and healthy income for players, should act as an inspiration for youngsters and confirm a steady supply of quality players in the future. All of this in a small or big way is also applicable to the global cricketing world.
To top it off, 10 days after the Women’s IPL announcement, BCCI declared that Team India women cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts.
#TeamIndia captain @ImHarmanpreet reacts on the landmark decision on pay equity policy for the contracted women cricketers. pic.twitter.com/HyxCmrJzMU
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) October 27, 2022
“This is a historic decision for women’s cricket in India! The pay equity policy along with the WIPL next year, we are ushering into a new era for women’s cricket in India. Thank you @JayShah Sir & the @BCCI for making this happen. Really happy today,” is how legendary Mithali Raj welcomed the decision on Twitter.
The last sentence, “Really happy today”, is the perfect summation of what it means. No longer an active cricketer, Mithali has little to gain from the BCCI’s decision, but as the guardian angel of women’s cricket in India for two decades, the former captain knew what the decision means to women’s cricket.
For a long, they have been second-class citizens to their male counterparts. Mithali for long played in a team that was anonymous to its own people and played matches for fees almost non-existent, but now the team has the deserved equity finally handed over to them.
BCCI deserves a soft pat on the back here. Not firmer because they are obviously very late. Now let’s hope for fatter contracts, domestic contracts and more matches on all fronts.
Also Read | BCCI’s ‘pay equity policy’ a laudable decision, but better and more contracts are the real deal
India failed to make it to the semi-finals of the 2022 ODI World Cup and lost the gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games by a whisker, but for those who believe the overnight success is a result of a process and hard work over a period of time, there’s a lot to proudly look up to.
The scoring rate landscape has transformed considerably over the years in women’s cricket catching the Indian side off guard. But 2022 is finally the year when they can say that the gap has been bridged. The only thing they need now is immaculate consistency to smother the mighty Aussies.
Two of India’s top three ODI totals, all 300+ scores, came in 2022 while five out of 10 top T20I totals came this year. The increased frequency of 270-280 ODI and 150+ T20I scores only underlines the growing strength of the Indian side. Only a handful of sides, Australia and England consistently, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies more often than not, are capable of doing so in international cricket.
Also, after the disappointment that was the ODI World Cup, India bounced back in style to clinch silver at Birmingham as women’s cricket debuted at Commonwealth Games. Its kitty this year also has the Asia Cup. Though not in a multi-nation event, undoubtedly one of the biggest results of 2022 was the ODI series win in England. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur starred as India won their first ODI series in England and later completed a 3-0 sweep with a famous win at Lord’s, the venue where they lost in the 2017 World Cup final.
Yes, the same Lord’s where Deepti Sharma did the daring and ran out Charlie Dean at the non-striker’s end for backing up too much. Deepti earned world cricket’s respect, and India made history in 2022.
Adieu Mithali and Jhulan
Just as India and the team get ready to write a new chapter, one of its most glorious epochs came to an end with Mithali Raj, 40, and Jhulan Goswami, 40, hanging their boots in 2022.
It’s a matter of singular honour & pride when one receives such warm encouragement from our Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi ji, who is a role model & inspiration for millions including me. I am overwhelmed by this thoughtfully worded acknowledgment of my contribution to cricket. pic.twitter.com/cTmqB6ZdNT
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) July 2, 2022
Also Read | Mithali Raj: A reluctant cricketer who built a sport and became the best
Mithali retired from the game with 10,868 runs to her name across all three international formats, the most by any woman batter.
Jhulan retired with 355 wickets across formats, the most by any woman bowler.
Towering numbers. Stats that should stay insurmountable for some time, but numbers aren’t their legacy alone, though they make it amply clear how special they have been in world cricket.
Their biggest legacy has been to keep the women’s game alive in India during its worst phases. To inspire and make the next generation believe that they can have a future as a woman cricketer. The most ideal thing would have been them leading India into this new era, but sadly every good thing comes to an end. They however would be super pumped to leave the game in incredibly better health than when they joined it, and they have been the catalyst for this growth.
The crowd in Navi Mumbai
Let no one gaslight you that women’s cricket doesn’t have a market in India. Those who do that are either the administrators guilty of not giving the game its due or simply ignorant.
When BCCI decided to provide free entry to India matches for the home T20I series against Australia, an unprecedented number of fans turned up at the DY Patil Stadium for the second game of the series.
A victory lap to honour the crowd who were in attendance to support the women in blue
Over 47,000 in attendance for the second T20I who witnessed a thriller here at the DY Patil Stadium 👏 👏
Keep cheering for Women in Blue 👍 👍#TeamIndia | #INDvAUS | @mastercardindia pic.twitter.com/CtzdsyhxZu
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) December 11, 2022
Yes, the entry was free, but the 47,000+ crowd in the stands was just the highlight of the potential the game holds and the love people have for it. The business model and the gate fees obviously have to be different than that for men’s game, but if marketed well, women’s cricket has the ability to hold its own.
Overall, if one is to say in commercial terms, it’s been a year of big gains and very few losses. A rare year that should act as a platform for a glorious future.
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AUS trail by 8 runs
Play In Progress
England Women beat West Indies Women by 8 wickets
Uganda Women beat Kenya Women by 6 wickets
Tanzania Women beat Qatar Women by 28 runs
Australia Women beat India Women by 54 runs
Bahrain beat Malaysia by 6 wickets
Uganda beat Rwanda by 3 runs
Qatar beat Singapore by 9 wickets (D/L method)
India beat Bangladesh by 3 wickets
England beat Pakistan by 8 wickets
India beat Bangladesh by 188 runs
Australia beat West Indies by 419 runs
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