The BCCI withdrawing the women’s national team from series in England is not a case of neglect, former India captain and Apex Council member Shanta Rangaswamy said on Monday, arguing that there hadn’t been enough time to make arrangements. Rangaswamy said the situation was not in BCCI’s control and suggested that “even nature” was conspiring against women’s cricket.
“It is not a case of neglect. You need at least six weeks to be match fit and with the Covid-19 affecting most part of the country, is it possible to organise a training camp right away? Then you would also have 14-day quarantine England,” she told PTI.
India had a tour of England for a bilateral limited-overs series scheduled for July-August this year. That couldn’t happen, but the ECB had suggested tweaking it into a tri-series, also involving South Africa, tentatively in September. But it was cancelled after the BCCI opted to pull out.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the Indian board withdrew primarily because – although never confirmed in an official statement – of the worsening Covid-19 situation in India. The ECB, however, is understood to have been prepared to cover costs for India’s accommodation and travel, including a charter flight if required, as the English board has done for the West Indies and Pakistan men’s teams currently touring the UK.
It is unclear if concerns over players getting adequate pre-tour training played a part in the cancellation. The BCCI is expected to organise a biosecure training camp in Ahmedabad for the men’s team ahead of their tour of Australia in December, according to an Indian Express report. With a women’s ODI World Cup scheduled in New Zealand in February-March, questions arise around whether the board has let go a chance for its women – especially ODI stalwarts Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, who haven’t played international cricket since early November last year – to get some much-needed game time under their belts.
“There was just not enough time to make it happen. Covid-19 has hurt world cricket, more so women’s cricket. We have gone back a couple of years after a record attendance for the T20 World Cup final at MCG in March. It is sad and an anti-climax.”
The IPL, scheduled for September 19-November 8, is also clashing with the Women’s Big Bash in Australia, where three or four Indian players are expected to participate. The women’s exhibition games are usually scheduled during the IPL play-offs but with the tournament being held in the UAE and the dates clashing with WBBL, it is unlikely they will take place.
“It looks like even nature is conspiring against women’s cricket. Last year, a third team was added to the IPL Women’s Challenge, this year it was supposed to be four. Now the shift of venue. More importantly, it is clashing with the women’s Big Bash, which was already scheduled. Let’s see what the IPL Governing Council decides,” said Rangaswamy.
“Going to England was more important than the IPL exhibition games. England tour would have been ideal preparation for the World Cup.”
With no selectors in place and no tour lined-up, women’s cricket in India is facing uncertainty after the gains over the last three years.
Rangaswamy said the BCCI’s commitment towards the game should not be judged in the current climate.
“The post Covid-19 scenario will be a testimony to their commitment on women’s cricket. People doubting BCCI’s intentions will have to wait for things to be normal before passing their judgement. The situation was not in their control on this occasion. The late announcement on the men’s T20 World Cup postponement has also also given the BCCI little time to prepare for the IPL,” she said.