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Ahead of the T20 World Cup and WPL, “reaching knockouts isn’t enough,” says Mithali

The past few weeks have marked a turning point for women’s cricket in India. Starting right from the overwhelming launch of the first ever Women’s Premier League or the Women in Blue turning the tables round in their favor in the inaugural edition of the ICC U19 T20 World Cup with the title to crown themselves up. The headlines have been on point seconding their game and guns.

During an interview, the former India skipper and recently appointed mentor and advisor for the Gujarat Titans, talked about the stretch that women’s cricket had traversed in recent years, remarking, “In the current age, everyone is on a phone, so any news just carries off in seconds. The more the matches are on television, the more content about women’s cricket, people are curious and eager to watch. And with the standard getting better, more and more people are keen to see.”

Commenting on the minimal existence of ‘talent pool’, she said, “This U-19 World Cup title showed there is talent at that level. The potential is so much that it can be groomed and in a couple of years or three years with the WPL, we can say Australia – who have been dominant through the years – have a serious contender. With the WPL and franchises coming in, the scouting will start, and parents will also get assurance that even at Under-19 level, their kids can represent India.”

“With U19 cricket, a completely different set of 15 can represent India. So, what happens because of this is, they start young, schools will give them a shot at representing India at Under-19 level and that will increase the pool of players in Under-14s and Under-16s. When they think they can graduate into the senior side, they will have more players to come out of Under-19,” she added.

She sounded loud in her belief while saying, “We (the Indian side) have reached a stage where reaching the knockouts is not enough. If you were to compare ourselves with the rest of the world other than Australia and England or even New Zealand, there are other teams who are at a stage where we were a few years back.”

She also expressed this hard feeling that although the Indian side has yet not been able to match at par with the English and Aussies, but in terms of vivid standards, they seem to put their shoulders one upon the other. “But overall, in a couple of years with the WPL coming in, we would (reach on par with them). Those countries have their leagues in place (Women’s Big Bash and The Hundred),” she remarked.

Quoting on the domestic circuit, she noted, “The domestic system, unlike men’s cricket, we don’t have too many matches. We have senior one-day league and Super League and same with T20. In the domestic circuit, we don’t have too many tournaments. So, the players are heavily reliant only on these tournaments.”

“With the WPL, and scouting and camps, there will be a proper system to nurture it. Then players don’t really have to stress themselves to perform in one tournament. You get another shot at WPL. There is going to be another opportunity where if you do well, you are once again on the radar of the selectors,” she concluded.



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