We treat cricket in India to be the ultimate sport and cricketers, to be the ultimate athletes. The attention a cricketer attains from media, agencies, sponsors and viewers makes cricket appear to be an endearing career option. This view is distorting the reality as it is not applicable to women’s cricket matches in the country. The performance of the Indian men on the cricket field can result in a plethora of emotions. However, the performance of the Indian women cricket team does not evoke the same. The attention provided to women cricket in India is paltry in comparison to their male counterparts.
Issues faced by Women’s cricket in India:-
a) Historical imbalance:-
Men developed cricket in historical times to showcase their own masculinity and male characteristics. It was to be played at the exclusion of women. As a result, men have always tilted the game in their favour and the favour of the already existing patriarchy. For any sport to succeed it needs resources as well as viewers. The India Cricket was non-existent for womens cricket associations due to the male dominated control over the game. This resulted in the latter suffering as well.
b) Lack of Resources and Viewers:-
Viewers determine whether advertising agencies want to be involved in fixtures. They also influence sponsors to see the worth in financing a player. The excuse given by most viewers for not supporting the women’s team is that they are just not as good as the men.
Attracting new viewers is difficult due to a lack of resources. Indian men playing cricket matches is promoted on social media platforms as a priority. This is such that even non-cricket lovers are aware of the match. The India Women cricket match on the other hand lacks popularity on social media. They also do not have the available resources to reach out to audiences. This results in a lack of awareness with regards to women’s matches.
c) Lack of Initiative and Mismanagement:-
Indians have always considered Australia to be the pioneer in the development of the women’s game. Cricket Australia cleared the schedule of the men’s cricket team during the 2nd edition of the Women’s Big Bash League. This led to a record high – 637,000 viewers for a match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Sydney Thunders. One of the key reasons why Indian women lose the big world tournaments is the fact that they are unable to perform in front of large crowds. This is because they are simply not exposed to such situations regularly. This was best stated by the former women cricket captain, Mithali Raj after the 2017 World Cup final loss. She stated “Everybody was nervous and I think that resulted in our defeat”.
d) Need for a Change in Mindset:-
The dream of every cricketer is to play in front of a packed audience in some of the most historical grounds in the world. The Indian women have experienced this privilege when they played the 2017 World Cup finals. This was in front of 28,000 people at Lord’s as well as in the 2020 t20 World Cup finals in front of 86,174 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. One can only ponder as to whether the results of these finals would be different had the women been given more resources, opportunities and experience.