'We need more enhanced support staff' - Raj

Mithali Raj on the importance of more support staff: "The coach can't deal with everything. When some of us are batting in the nets, there is nobody to give fielding practice to the other girls." PTI

India Women's captain Mithali Raj has expressed the need for more support staff in the team, even as she welcomed the BCCI's decision to allow India's women cricketers to play in foreign leagues.

Raj's observations came in the wake of the BCCI's women's cricket committee meeting earlier this week, which deliberated on the creation of an expansive vision document that will, among other things, deal with the appointment of support staff.

"I personally think we need to have a more enhanced support staff," Raj told ESPNcricinfo. "That's the first thing I will look into. For the World Cup [World T20], we just had a coach, manager, physio and trainer. Probably if we have a fielding coach or an assistant coach it will enhance the team as there won't be too much pressure on the coach to look after everything.

"The coach can't deal with everything. [For instance] when some of us are batting in the nets, there is nobody to give fielding practice to the other girls as the coach would be at the nets."

Raj also stressed on the need to commence preparations for the 50-over World Cup next year in England, and said it would be ideal to have preparatory camps ahead of India's forthcoming series against West Indies and Pakistan. "With pretty much a year [for the World Cup] to go, we should start our preparation as soon as possible," she said. "Both these series are going to be vital in terms of points and preparation.

"I would prefer to have a couple of camps before these series because getting the girls to regroup after a break is important. There are also some girls who might want to work on different things."

Raj was also confident the players will be better for the experience of playing in leagues abroad. "It's a very positive decision. Since we don't have one [a league] of our own this crossover will give youngsters like Smriti Mandhana and other young spinners a chance to play in leagues abroad where there will be exchange of cultures," she said.

"It's a great opportunity for them to start observing other players and their rituals, their tactics and how they prepare. It's a different feeling to be playing with a player who you have never played in the same team with. That's how we felt when we played in the Rest of the World [versus MCC] match."

Veteran seamer Jhulan Goswami said the exposure that came with playing in different conditions had long-term benefits. "The experience you gain by making runs and taking wickets in different conditions will be useful when you play international cricket," Goswami said. "I hope many young women participate in such leagues. This will benefit the Indian team in the future as well."

The BCCI's decision, though, has come a little late for Indian participation in the inaugural Women's Super League in England, which will be held this year from July 30 to August 14. The BCCI had not decided on the matter when the ECB sent a letter to all Full Members seeking their permission to enlist players. India's women players had also missed the inaugural Women's Big Bash League in December-January. Despite missing out on the tournaments, Raj was upbeat about the future.

"If we had played in the inaugural Women's Big Bash it would have given us a platform for WSL," Raj said. "Nevertheless, it's just one season and I am sure many Indian players will be a part of such leagues in the future."

When asked if these were logical steps towards the creation of a women's IPL, Raj said it would happen eventually. "It should be, maybe in a year or two. It should happen when people in India actually start following women's cricket more keenly, and not just the World T20 and big events."

Shubangi Kulkarni, the women's cricket committee member from the west zone, said the women's IPL wasn't specifically discussed, but was optimistic about how the meeting panned out.

"This was an introductory meeting. I thought everybody was pretty positive and I think some good things have come out of this," Kulkarni said. "It's difficult to come up with solutions for everything in the first meeting, which is why we felt a vision document was needed. We will table the document shortly."