India Women news January 29, 2013

Edulji slams 'discriminatory' BCCI, says women's game dying


Diana Edulji, the former India Women captain, has criticised the "discriminatory" attitude of the BCCI and said the board is not interested in running women's cricket beyond paying "lip service". She warned that the women's game in India is in danger of dying out if the current situation persists.

Edulji, one of India's pioneering woman cricketers, was on the BCCI's women's committee and was also manager of the Indian Women team in 2009. It was a "dream" when the BCCI took over women's cricket a few years ago - in line with ICC regulations - but now the bubble has burst.

"The BCCI is running women's cricket because they have to run it, because the ICC is now running both men's and women's cricket," Edulji told ESPNcricinfo. "Otherwise, there is no women's cricket. They cannot play under any other banner. I would say it is an insult to women's cricket to be treated this way."

She was scathing about the gender-based double standards prevalent in the game's administration. As an example, she spoke about how the India Women team preparing for the Women's World Cup had been put up in a centrally-located but budget hotel before being shifted to the luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel a couple of days ago.

"I was driving and on Marine Drive I saw this whole bunch of red t-shirts coming. I realised it was the India Women team," Edulji said. "They were walking from Sea Green [the hotel] to the Wankhede [Stadium]. I stopped my car, and the way they greeted me, I felt nice, but I also felt that this is the Indian national team, and they are walking on the street?

"And where are they playing? Police Gymkhana, Hindu Gymkhana, Bombay Gymkhana? Would any men cricketers play there?"

India's international and domestic women cricketers had to make do with significantly lower match fees and other benefits, Edulji said, and combined with a sustained lack of exposure, there was little motivation to take up the game apart from pure love of the sport. "The players should be getting the maximum. The irony is, in women's cricket it is the other way round; the selectors get the maximum, then come the match referees, and then come the players. So how are you going get girls to come into cricket? And what is the domestic match fee? Rs 2500 (US$ 47 approx). Where are you going to eat, if you stay in a four-star hotel? And for T20 it is even less, Rs 1250."

Despite consistently being among the top-ranked players in the world, Edulji said India captain Mithali Raj had little chance of being recognised in public due to the lack of visibility of women's cricket in India. "I may be boasting. Still, when I go to movies or restaurants, I am still recognised. But I am sure if Mithali is with me, she won't be recognised. It is sad. I still feel nice when someone comes up to me and introduces me to their children. And why shouldn't these girls get the recognition? Jhulan [Goswami] is a Padma Shri [winner], she's an Arjuna awardee, so is Mithali."

However, Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, said the board was giving women's cricket adequate support. "Women's cricket has come under BCCI's wings in 2006. Since then, the board has done an excellent job with it," he said. "We have extended the best of facilities to women cricketers. All the state associations have thrown open all their training facilities to the girls. Besides, virtually every team has all the requisite support staff, including a coach, a physio and a trainer.

"All the girls are very happy with these facilities. The board is focussing on shorter formats for women's cricket because almost all the international calendar revolves around T20s and ODIs. And the women's committee's suggestion of splitting the inter-state competitions into Plate and Elite group has been accepted. Next year onwards, top 10 teams will play each other, thereby increasing the level of competition."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Graham on February 1, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    bluepower, your argument is, in my view, insanely illogical. You assert that women's cricket "is nowhere attractive as men," but women's tennis and football are equally attractive as their male counterparts. You identify a shortcoming of women's cricket as "Sehwag or Dhoni are hitting the ball to the second tier of a stadium [whereas] women struggle to clear the boundary rope shorter than men, [thus] the attractiveness is not there." This is a double standard between tennis and cricket. In women's tennis the inequality is the same. Apart from Serena Williams, when was the last time you saw any woman hit a tennis serve at 200km/h? Yet, among the ATP, almost every man can hit 200km/h serves, numerous times in succession. Now, this is an accepted consequence of physiology, and no-one suggests women's tennis is inferior for it. In fact, you explicity defend the equality of women's tennis despite this fact; yet you apply the same logic to cricket and get a different conclusion.

  • CHANDRA on January 30, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    Diana Edulji's very valid comments about the state of women's cricket have been mirrored by so many people so many times in the past. But her comments "Still, when I go to movies or restaurants, I am still recognised. But I am sure if Mithali is with me, she won't be recognised…." is nothing but an abysmal attempt to draw attention to herself at the cost of a classy lady like Mithali. She might be recognised in Mumbai, particularly by the much respected Parsi Community (God bless them, they have contributed so much to the country, and yet remained completely unassuming, humble and displayed great character, integrity & honesty… but sadly, Edulji appears to be an exception to this tribute). If you were to take all the major cities into account, I am sure Mithali will be recognised a great deal more compared to Edulji. In my opinion, Edulji, though twice as old as Mithali, has a lesson or two to learn from Mithali about class, humility, and character. Bless you, Mithali, and best wishes

  • Arup on January 30, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Continuing to my previous post, if you see women's Badminton, Tennis or TT are equally attractive as the men's sport. The reason being it has same toughness and competition as the men. So thus these games are being watched with huge number. Now even the world women football is same. We have to realise women cricket is nowhere attractive as men.

  • Arup on January 30, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Ms. Edulji with due respect to cricket you played, women cricket can never grow as you are expecting. If Sehwag or Dhoni are hitting the ball to the second tier of a stadium and women struggle to clear the boundary rope shorter than men, the attractiveness is not there. If Dale Steyn, Umesh Yadav are bowling at 150 kph and ladies dont even touch 120 kph, it lacks the attractiveness. If women cricketers cant play as atractive cricket as the men does, the crowd wont come. This also applies to other nations as well. And it is pointless to ask BCCI to do charity.

    Earlier you were a seperate body with which you had a problem, now even after being attached to BCCI and they are doing whatever best is possible even though your cricket is not attractive, please dont complain any further. Forget about BCCI, please walk up to any sponsor/press who would be more inclined for women's cricket than men. No one. Sorry sounds harsh but thats the way it is and will never change. Accept it or leave it.

  • yuvraj on January 30, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    forget about womens cricket team in india. Their mens cricket team is already dying now.

  • Dummy4 on January 30, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    I have a very good idea to improve standard and importance of women's cricket in India. 1. Make each IPL team compulsion to have one woman player in the playing eleven! 2. Now in order increase the compitative edge over their male conterparts give them some relaxation by introducing new rules such as, a. Every time when male player bowls above 125 or 130 km/hr give a no ball and a free hit. b. Every time when female player scores run single/double/triple give her one run bonus, give six runs for a boundary and ten runs for a sixer. c. When male player scores a boundary in female player's over give him three runs instead of four, give him four runs for a sixer The participation of female players in high profile tournaments like IPL will automatically increase their income and they will get attention/glamour which is currently missing. Due to compulsion in playing elevan each team has to nurture al least 2-3 female players who will be honing their skills with best males in the game.

  • Dummy4 on January 30, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    The Women's Cricket Team should be encouraged and decent grade salaries and match fees on the lines suggested by SK5983, that is, Rs. 25 lakhs for Grade A and so on and Rs. 1.5 lakhs match fees and so on, decent lodgings, transport and other facilities on a par with male cricketers should be given. This should not be treated like hand-outs or favors but should be treated as their rightful dues. The Board should remember that its own prestige, apart from the country's, is involved.

  • C on January 30, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Mixed Cricket Tournments (Just like Tennis) Can make the cricket more popular and attractive. With these tournments these women cricketers will be more popular like our men cricketers!!!

  • arul on January 30, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    May be they women cricketers should band together and form a IPL of theit own. With top women players from abroad joining in. May be upto 4 teamwith matched being played in Bombay Delhi and Hydrabad. Cut down on the travel and related expenses. When I watched IPL I used to suffer from withdrawal symptoms when there was only 1 match in certain days. There must be similar fans out there and why not offer that slot to the women's teams. This way they can gauge interest and promote interest in womens cricket. BCCI could underwrite this in the first year and see what interest develops.

  • ramachandra on January 30, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    One problem is of course the pay. This will bring in more girls which in turn will improve quality. Quality is what spectators look at. If that is lacking, obviously the standards wont be same as that of mens sport, the spectators wont turn up. That in turn affects the broadcast and thus its a cycle. I think the BCCI with all its money can invest at the grass roots for ALL cricket, including mens, and under 16 cricket which is also not that high in standard. Hopefully some coverage this time will ensure a better viewership and thus initiating the BCCi to take up womens cricket seriously.