x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Women's World Cup cricketers must get all the help they deserve

Most people in India are unaware that the Women's World Cup has started. Of those that are aware, most do not care.

Team captains – from left, West Indies’ Merissa Aguilleira, India’s Mithali Raj, England captain Charlotte Edwards and Sri Lanka’s Shashikala Siriwardena – with the ICC Women's World Cup trophy. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo
Team captains – from left, West Indies’ Merissa Aguilleira, India’s Mithali Raj, England captain Charlotte Edwards and Sri Lanka’s Shashikala Siriwardena – with the ICC Women's World Cup trophy. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo

On ESPNCricinfo, Alison Mitchell, who reported on cricket for the BBC for years, has an article titled: Do you know a World Cup is about to begin? It is a valid question, and the answer is "No".

Most people in India are unaware that the Women's World Cup started yesterday. Of those that are aware, most do not care.

The women are in the shadow of not only the men's side, but even the Under 19s, whose exploits have been extensively chronicled since the class of 2008 won the title.

India's women last played a Test in 2006, and their last one-day series was in England last summer, when they led 2-0 before losing a five-match contest.

Mithali Raj is the No 1-ranked batswoman in women's ODIs, but as Diana Edulji, a former captain, said recently, she would struggle to be recognised if she walked down the street.

The television channel covering the event has been running promotions pointing out that Belinda Clark scored a double-century in ODIs before Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, and also that Raj was the youngest to score a Test hundred, but there are likely to be far more viewers tuning in to a late-night English Premier League game.

At the World Twenty20, the fact that the women's semi-finals and final were held before the men's games meant that there were at least a few thousand watching what they could do. In the absence of such crowd support, it is hard to see the women's game taking the big leap, especially in India. What it needs is a 1983-like Indian triumph.

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