January 25, 2013

Women's World Cup 2013

The Women's World Cup deserves better

Jack Sheldon
Sarah Taylor plays towards the off-side, England v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, Women's World T20, Colombo, October 4, 2012
The skills of cricketers like Sarah Taylor deserve as much of an audience as the male cricketers  © ICC/Getty
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

Preparations for the tenth Women's Cricket World Cup in India have descended into a farce, following the BCCI's decision to make late changes to the schedule. Just a week before the opening matches, new venues have been announced - with the Wankhede Stadium being dropped - but the revised schedule of matches is yet to be made public. Apart from affecting teams, this also means a great deal of uncertainty for broadcasters, as the Wankhede Stadium was the scheduled venue for the televised games in the first week. There are now some question marks whether the matches will be televised at all. Moreover, the reason for switching the venues is highly questionable.

The Wankhede Stadium is being taken out of use primarily to allow Mumbai to play the Ranji Trophy final. While it is possible that crowds will flock to see Sachin Tendulkar playing first-class cricket in his home city, for possibly the last time, an ICC event that has been scheduled for years should surely take precedence. Admittedly, though, the Wankhede was not an ideal venue: it would have been better to play this tournament at smaller venues, where it would have attracted larger crowds.

That said, in light of recent political developments in India, where the brutal gang rape of a student in Delhi led to mass protests against attitudes towards women, this tournament could have been a perfect opportunity to demonstrate what women can do. The standard of women's cricket is constantly improving and, on the basis of recent results, this will be the most competitive women's event in years.

England and Australia will go in as favourites, although England haven't always been successful in Asia and Australia's recent series against New Zealand was a closely contested one. The hosts have a chance, too, with Mithali Raj, one of the world's leading batsmen, in their side. With her classical style, Raj has struggled to make an impact in Twenty20 events, but is one of the most prized wickets in ODIs.

Some people are likely to dismiss the women's game as irrelevant and low-quality amid the big-hitting of the IPL and the mainstream international game. Of course, it is indisputable that the quality is not the same as in the men's game. But that shouldn't stop people from watching and enjoying it. The Paralympics last summer was the best example of how non-elite sport can be enjoyed; after a quiet start, people quickly started seeing what the athletes could do rather than what they couldn't. While the Olympics were always going to be popular, the Paralympics were the success story of the summer, transforming perceptions of disabled sport and disability in general.

The same attitude should be taken towards women's cricket. While no female player can hit the ball like a Chris Gayle or MS Dhoni, or bowl as fast as Dale Steyn, it still doesn't make their skills any less watchable. Lydia Greenway fields as well as just about any player (male or female) in the world, Sarah Taylor's batting is beautiful to watch, and a lot of the spinners on show could teach a few male cricketers a thing or two.

I do believe this World Cup could still be a big success. If the Indian public can be galvanised to turn out at least for the matches in which the host team is playing, it will make the tournament feel like an event. After all, there are few things more annoying for international performers than playing in empty, echoing stadiums in their home country.

With little major international cricket scheduled over the next few weeks, the cricketing media, at least in England, are likely to give the tournament some column space. The BBC Test Match Special is set to broadcast England's matches live for the first time - unless the last minute shuffling puts a spoke in that.

At the moment, however, the administrators are making a mockery of the showpiece event of women's cricket. The players and supporters deserve better than that.

Keywords: Scheduling

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RDx on (February 3, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

To promote women's cricket, why isn't the Indian women's team called an invitational team in ipl and be allowed to play a match all the 8 franchises..

Posted by Gerard on (February 1, 2013, 3:35 GMT)

Yep, another triumph of short-term, ad hoc planning by those running the game. I want to know why the women's World Cup is being played now. Most people wouldn't even know it's on. Why not have it at the same time as the men's and increase the prestige of both tournaments?

Posted by poojitha on (January 30, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

all the best to womens cricket indian team

Posted by Luck Raj on (January 28, 2013, 23:39 GMT)

Womens cricket is always going to be like the WNBA. No one cares. They will never be on par with Men's cricket. It is sad to say but we will never be equal. People want to see world class matches having the STRONGEST players in teh world play. A women is not as strong as a man and will never be. They are not as fast, not as strong. I do wish this would be different but people dont want to pay for a second rate match which is a Women's cricket match. I am all for girl power, women's rights. But sports are entertaining. Men will entertain more.

Posted by NABIN KUMAR KHARA on (January 28, 2013, 8:13 GMT)

Women cricket still has a long way to go..............

Posted by K.A.K on (January 28, 2013, 4:49 GMT)

Totally agree with the author. There still is time to make this a great event. I am wondering what will happen if Pakistan qualify for semi-final or final. Will they play in Mumbai or the venue will shift again?

Posted by Rant-o-Saurus on (January 27, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

Gee, Aravind...you're projecting so hard you could point yourself at a wall and display PowerPoint presentations. I don't see the author anywhere in this article saying anything about women claiming so-called 'backdoor entry' to international level, and yet here you are. Are you trying to suggest that women should have to fight for positions amongst men in cricket teams in a practice that doesn't happen in any other major level sporting organization? There's several other comments I could make about you and your sexist views held by other members of the sub-continental community, which thankfully for you, me and the moderators of this website I'm not going to make. But shame on you, Aravind, for your incredibly insulting and narrow-minded views. I hope the Women's World Cup is great success financially and for the game of cricket. It'd be nice to see an entertaining, balanced game of cricket being played in India for once which is more than I can say for the Ranji 'Flat-track' Trophy.

Posted by Gizza on (January 27, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

Are there really many "schoolboys" that are better than the best female cricketers in the world? Cricket is hardly a game of strength and speed (with the exception of fast bowling, six hitting and running between the wickets). Everything else is a game of coordination and intelligence. Cricket is one of the few sports where a five foot man can easily become one of the best of all-time. I think some of the negative borderline sexist commenters would receive a thrashing even if they played against a typical women's club team.

On the cricket itself, Eng and Aus are the clear favourites though I think the Windies are the dark horses. I'm quite impressed with Stafanie Taylor. An average of 46 in the 50-over game is very strong.

Posted by Sai on (January 26, 2013, 19:57 GMT)

So many wanna be BCCI haters here. But let me tell you guys and girls. It was not shifted due to Ranji(My fellow Indians, its about time you started reading the news paper). It was shifted because a right-wing political party warned that they would not let Pak set foot in Mumbai. As for the author, it is safe to assume he does not read the news paper either. Besides we cannot expect foreigners to understand the general Indian sentiment. It is very easy to say lets not mingle cricket with politics, but it is easier said than done! True I would have loved the Women's cricket to get more attention, but it was not to be. The same thing may have happened to the mens' World Cup, if it was going on right now, due to the recent turn of events at the border.

Posted by Jack Sheldon on (January 26, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

Aravind - I don't really get your point. Women do not have the same physical capabilities as men, and so its appropriate that they play sport (apart from, say, horse racing) separately.

People who questioned my reference to the Paralympics - I did think carefully about this comparison, but I do think it is relevant. I am not talking about the level of competition, but more the way in which supporters were able to put aside their prejudices and support the event for its own qualities, rather than comparing it to the male sport which most most people watch.

Comments have now been closed for this article