Had India won the 2017 Women's World Cup, then there would have been great celebration in the nation. Social media would have been ecstatic and the prize money, sponsors and jobs would have flowed like water for our women cricketers.
There might even have been an open bus city rally to welcome to them and the images would have been played on TV for days on end inspiring a generation of budding women cricketers. The way 1983 launched the ODI revolution and 2007 launched the T20 revolution, 2017 may have well launched the women's cricket revolution.
But that was not to be and the opportunity seems to have been lost. But maybe not! The 2017 edition received great attention, higher TRP ratings and trended big time on Twitter. Why not take this interest and carry it forward?
Here are some ideas to make women’s cricket in India even more popular...
1. Launch a women's IPL in 2018
Millions were glued to TV sets during the WWC and the likes of Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur became household names. In fact Harmanpreet's semi-final knock of 171* is one of the best of all time even if you include men's ODIs.
Smriti Mandhana also caught the imagination of Twitter at the beginning of WWC. The time is right to launch a women's IPL in 2018. The infrastructure and format is in place and what's the point of having the most cash-rich board in the world if you can't launch such tournaments?
The women's IPL would unearth greater talent and keep women cricketers in the limelight every year instead of every four years. In fact in the 2013 edition we got eliminated early and by the time most people realized a WWC was going on, India were already out.
Since the men's IPL is in the first half, you could keep the women's edition in the second. IPL founder Lalit Modi had visualized two IPLs a year and that can be realized in this fashion.
The T20 WWC takes place in November 2018 and it would be great if the BCCI could fit in an IPL just months before that.
2. Aggressive promotion of women's series
Did you know there have been six women Asia Cups? Did you know that India has won all of them, giving no chance to the likes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka? We are already a colossus on the sub-continent, but just haven't been able to translate that globally.
Did you know that 19-year-old Deepti Sharma blasted a 188 in the Quadrangular in South Africa just before WWC? The problem is that the BCCI's efforts at promoting women's cricket have come a cropper in the past.
We have to now increase the ad campaign budget and push for all the international series that women play aggressively. It shouldn't just be a once in four year affair. The T20 WWC takes place in West Indies next year and that should receive great coverage.
3. A high-profile coach
Why shouldn't a Ravi Shastri or an Anil Kumble or a Virender Sehwag coach the women's team? What's wrong with that? Women's team should also have a high-profile Head Coach and a coaching staff that rivals the men's.
4. Hike the salaries
The total prize money for the 2013 Women's World Cup was $200,000. For the men's version in 2015, it was 50 times more at $10 million. They rectified that a bit in 2017 and the women's cup in 2017 had $2 million in total prize money.
Still, Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik each got more than that for a single IPL season! While games like lawn tennis have worked out the parity between the men's and women's game, cricket is a long way away from that.
We need a better contract system for the women players and definitely much more money.
5. Bettering the Test-Ranji ecosystem
The men's team has played more than 500 Tests. In contrast the number is just 36 for women! The Ranji Trophy is also a strong tournament for men's First Class cricket. But the focus is more on the shorter formats and the three-day version for women.
Domestic cricket needs a women's IPL and that's for sure. However there is no harm in strengthening First Class cricket for women too. Women's cricket in India is treated on an ad hoc basis and maybe we need a White Paper to change it through and through.
6. Many more inter-school/college tournaments
Boys start playing cricket at an early age and there's no shortage of coaching camps and inter-school/college tournaments for them. In contrast the opportunities are limited for the girls.
The BCCI doesn't need to for the men's version, but maybe it should start getting into organizing inter-school and inter-college tournaments. In fact last year the then BCCI President Anurag Thakur had talked of starting something which he called the University League.
Well women’s cricket needs that more than the men's version!