As India’s women’s cricket team gears up for its maiden pink-ball Test against Australia in September, former captains Shantha Rangaswamy and Diana Edulji believe that it would be good for the players if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) conducts a domestic preparatory pink-ball tournament ahead of the tour.
Rangaswamy believes that with the one-off Test scheduled between September 30 and October 3, it would be beneficial for the players if they get some proper match practice before flying out to Australia. “As the Indian women don’t play even red ball cricket in the domestic circuit, it is advisable for the BCCI to conduct a pink ball tournament in India before our women embark on the journey to Australia,” Rangaswamy said.
Edulji – who was earlier a member of the Committee of Administrators – believes that even though it might be tough to host a tournament amid the pandemic, the Board could look at a longer camp at the National Cricket Academy. “I am happy that we get to play with the pink ball also, but before that, if it is possible, there could be a domestic tournament with the pink ball so that the girls get used to it. Otherwise, it is a good thing,” Edulji told Sportstar.
“Preparation is important because even the men’s team was struggling. Given the scenario, I am not sure when the domestic season will start and when it will start. Maybe, if they have a camp in NCA or some practice sessions will help. But yes, match practice is more important than just training sessions. In camp, it’s just about nets, but in match situations, you actually get to know a lot more,” Edulji said.
Before the tour of Australia, India will play a long series against England in June and July which will include a Test and limited-overs competitions.
India will be playing a Test match after seven years and most of the players will be playing with the red ball for the first time in their career. “If we go back to 2014 when we played the Test against England, there were eight debutants in the playing eleven. We beat the top team. I have always wanted to see the girls play Test cricket. It’s a good beginning and it will help the girls. If you play the longer format, the temperament and everything can be learned and you can adjust to any other formats,” Edulji said.
The BCCI hosted the South Africa women’s team for a series in March which India lost. And now, the Board is trying to get more opportunities to the players, leading to next year’s World Cup.
“The BCCI has been planning on certain tournaments for women cricketers in the last year. But time and again, plans have gone haywire because of the pandemic. It is heartening to note that the BCCI has planned a Test during Indian women’s tour of England,” Rangaswamy said.
“I firmly believe the ultimate barometer is the longest format,” she added.
Former India captains Diana Edulji and Shantha Rangaswamy (right). – PTI & K. MURALI KUMAR
The former India captain also suggested that an emerging team could be sent to Sri Lanka, when the men’s team travels to the Island nation in July. “It is nice to know the Indian men will be playing in Sri Lanka. It will be good if a women’s team is also sent to Sri Lanka. This will be a good way of increasing the standard of the bench strength. All these suggestions are as a former cricketer,” Rangaswamy said.
India last played a Test against Australia in 2006. It will also play ODIs and T20Is in the tour.