Mithali Raj is a well-known woman cricketer in India. But there’s a huge difference between those who have just heard her name on a news channel and those who have actually watched her play cricket. Those who have seen her play know the contribution she has made to a world of women’s cricket in India which is never looked as closely as that of men. But that’s until now.
Yesterday, our women lost the World Cup Final against England in a match that truly showed the faith and determination with which England fought and became the World Champions for the 4th time at the Lord’s Stadium. For England, the match was a chance at a new reign with the coveted Trophy. For India, this match was an opportunity. An opportunity to make the worshippers of Cricket in India see a part of their beloved game they had never seen yet. Or had rather not cared enough to see.
True, a victory would have made the Indian Women Cricket team much more known, appreciated and acknowledged. The victory would have satisfied the hunger that kept them under the shadows for a long time and made the Indians notice what their women are capable of. But in a different perspective, not attaining this goal of victory has added much more depth to their story. Intensified the hunger for success, and created a plot which might as well continue until the next World Cup, where the expectations would be much greater than they were this year.
If the coverage and the viewership achieved by the Indian Women’s Cricket team this year is any indication, and hopefully if it does not completely die out until the next World Cup, the opportunity for exposure would be even better for our women cricketers. Some of whom in the current team might carry their experience on to the next challenge they would take and use their knowledge to pursue what they never stopped dreaming about.
For a few like Mithali Raj, this might be their last World Cup. But she would be proud of the fact that in the middle of her final World Cup, the Indian people have known her importance. The current leading run-scorer in Women’s ODI cricket and someone considered to be one of the best batswomen in the World, Mithali Raj has only got to show her feelings on rare occasions. One of those moments came when she was asked about her favorite male cricketer. Her reply to the question was straightforward “Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favorite female cricketer is?”.
Her answer to the question did not mean she desperately wanted people to focus on the women’s team. What she simply meant to convey was the lack of acknowledgment given to Women’s Cricket in India. In a country where cricket is almost a religion, where men and women alike love to watch and play cricket. The major attention always goes to the men’s team. Surely there would have been just as many young girls as the young boys who might have aspired to become a cricketer during their childhood. But among those who deeply desired to become a cricketer and wanted to take further steps to pursue their passion, the young girls might have probably been stopped on their way, or would never have got a chance to show their talent without inappropriate judgment.
Cricket, until now had always been a game which was considered to belong only to the men. But now with some recognition acquired by the Women’s team in this World Cup, they have some much-needed fuel to boost their game up and make the country notice. An IPL for women’s cricket in the future might just be a key to that. Then names like Harmanpreet Kaur, Poonam Raut, Mithali Raj and Deepti Sharma might be spoken about with the same tones as Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja are talked about.
But everything should not be limited to just cricket. There are other sports like our national game hockey, football and so many other fields of sport where our Indian Men and Women need recognition. If creating the feeling of nationalism amongst people is essential for the growth of our country. Why not make the Indian men and women grow and develop themselves in every field possible so as to take their country to a better position in the world, and make it a better place to live.