The COVID-19 has severely affected every sector – be it sports or anything else. But with time, international cricket has returned with proper protection. With the postponement of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the BCCI has decided to host 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) as well in the UAE, keeping the current situation in mind. While the board is concerned about men’s game, women’s cricket in India has hit the rock bottom with the cancellation of their England tour. That certainly didn’t go well with many, including former India captain Anjum Chopra.

Despite cancelling the T20 World Cup this year, the ICC is eyeing to host the 2021 Women’s World Cup as scheduled in New Zealand. With less than 6 months in hand or the marquee event, India have hardly a few series to prepare for the tournament.

India were scheduled to tour England in July but it was postponed due to the pandemic outbreak. Later, the England and Wales Cricket Board proposed a tri-series involving South Africa in September but the BCCI has pulled out the name owing to the novel coronavirus situation in the nation. Like many, Anjum Chopra also believes India would get the opportunity to start training if the England tour takes place.

“If the girls had gone to England, that means, they would have started training before the tour. And then they would have gone there and quarantined. Like the Pakistan men’s team has been there since the time the 1st Test match started in England (against West Indies). So obviously, when you start working backward, the team would have started training earlier, the team would have started matches earlier and then going out and playing a triangular series with South Africa and England,” Chopra told indiatoday.in.

Team India ©Getty Images

“If you isolate all that and say whether the women’s team had an opportunity to start training and start coming back into the fold, yes there was an opportunity. Especially because cricket in England is already happening, they are already playing, they have already got a set-up in place for everything.

There is straightaway a lag of a couple of months because everybody else has started training. If you are going to start 2 months after others have started training, you’re going to play catch-up. The others have started training but the Indian team hasn’t,” she further added.

While the England tour is out of the equation, it remains a question if the Women’s T20 Challenge will take place alongside IPL 2020. Even if the IPL Governing Council decides to host the 4-team’s tournament, the availability of foreign players remains a concern as Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) is scheduled to take place from October 17 to November 29.

Women’s IPL, not the only priority now

However, Chopra who represented India in 6 World Cups, said that the priority is to get all the girls out on the field as soon as possible, keeping the importance of the 2021 women’s World Cup in mind when the team has been consistently reaching the finals of ICC tournaments. Notably, India lost the 2017 50-over World Cup final by 9 runs and lost the T20 World Cup final earlier this year.

Women's IPL

Supernovas win the Women’s T20 Challenge Trophy. Image- Twitter/IPL

“I think it [full-fledged] could have been a reality if everything was fine maybe in another 2 years, it could have been. At the moment, if the women’s team misses out playing their scheduled 7 matches. If the 2020 IPL goes ahead and women are not a party to it, then I think by next year we will play out what this year’s IPL matches would have been because we don’t know what is going to happen to next year,” Anjum Chopra said.

“At this point of time, it doesn’t really matter about only a women’s IPL, the women should start getting to be together, starting focusing on working towards the upcoming World Cup in New Zealand because that is going to be a very important World Cup for the Indian team. They have played the final, semi-finals and then the final in the last 3 years, it’s a big World Cup. It becomes very very important. The bar has been set, if you can’t breach it, then at least you have to match it,” she explained.

Training camp possible in a bio-secure bubble

Anjum Chopra said that the BCCI can try to create a bio-secure bubble in the country for a training camp of its contracted players as soon as possible.

“We all know for sure that this is what the situation is. We all know what it is. If the board can get the contracted players, I am not talking about the women, it’s up to the boys as well, to start having a camp in a bio-secure environment in any of the cities in the county,” added the former captain.

“When you see a bio-secure environment, it doesn’t mean that in that part of the state or city, the coronavirus does not exist. It’s a bio-secure environment, if everyone is safe and sound, keeping all the checks, then the board can organise a camp. I think the camp is the way forward, that kind of bio-secure bubble needs to be thought out and planned. Ensuring that people who are fit start training,” Anjum Chopra concluded.

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