New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): "If one is a good Test player then one can play in any format," these were the words from Tarak Sinha, the Sonnet Club coach, known well to the followers of the game.
Sinha, a Dronacharya awardee, has been a guiding force in the lives of many international cricketers. He shaped the game of pupils like Rishabh Pant, Ashish Nehra, Shikhar Dhawan, Jhulan Goswami, Anjum Chopra, Aakash Chopra, KP Bhaskar, Raman Lamba, Manoj Prabhakar and Atul Wassan.
"If one is a good Test player then one can play in any format. On the contrary, if one is a T20 player then it is not necessary that one will excel in other formats. Test is the most important form of cricket. During tours, one-two Test matches (for women) used to take place earlier. Due to the shortage of time, they have stopped now. Test cricket should definitely be revived," Sinha told ANI.
BCCI, for the first time ever, conducted a separate conclave for women captains and coaches in Mumbai last week. A number of captains expressed their desire to play multi-day cricket, a format on which the BCCI is not focusing just yet as they want to follow the ICC's vision of promoting women's cricket through the limited-overs format.
Sudha Shah, a veteran of 21 Tests and 13 ODIs, emphasised that the ICC is primarily focusing on T20 cricket than even the 50-over for women.
"It is sad! It is just Australia and England who are playing Test and that too because of their tradition of Ashes. The actual test of cricket is Test cricket. ICC is looking from the spectators' point of view. They come mostly in T20 cricket than 50-over," Shah said.
The women cricketers saw a 13,000-plus crowd in the Women's T20 Challenge final in Jaipur. The turnout was so unexpected that around 4,000 were stopped at entrance to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. The league gave three teams a chance to play two matches each followed by the final unlike two teams playing just one match last year. The outcome has encouraged the BCCI to think on converting the league into a four-team event, giving each side an opportunity to play the other twice.
"Their body is not made for cricket and they lack strength as compared to men but the quality with which they are playing now is no less than men's cricket. People want to see power cricket. Apart from two-three girls, rest lack in power. Earlier, they used to play boring cricket but now they have improved a lot. Slowly they are getting their share of attention. People's attention has moved towards them and that will bring in money for them," Sinha said.
"I look at it very selfishly from an Indian player's point of view. I feel rubbing shoulders and sharing the dressing room with foreign players, our girls will learn a lot. It is great exposure for them. Their game has been improving. We need a little more stability in our batting. We do have Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur. If we get one or two like them, we will be an unbeatable side," Shah said.
Although women's cricket is getting its share of popularity, especially after the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup, the support of franchises is still far away.
"That will take time. Franchises are not attracted that easily. They do not love cricket rather they see their benefit. BCCI needs to work for them first, then franchises will come forward," Sinha said.
"I think it should happen in a year or two. Last year we had two teams but this time one more was added. Going by the popularity, I feel in a couple of years franchises should be coming forward to start the league," Shah sounded optimistic.
Staging a full-fledged league may take some more time, given the concerns of the BCCI over the depth of India's domestic pool of players. To improve the base, both Sinha and Shah offered their advice.
"Cricket should be promoted and begun at the school level. Our domestic structure needs to be improved. District level people should go to schools and look for talented girls, give them training, motivate them to think about cricket as a career. Now we have three-four international level batswomen and a couple of bowlers as well. Numbers should increase. With more international tours their cricket will improve," Sinha said.
"Now examples are in front of them. In the current team, three-four girls are doing a brilliant job. One must remember them. Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana have all proved themselves. Look at them, work hard and never get disheartened. Girls are doing something which is not meant for them and still performing well that is a big thing," he added.
Shah noted, "Things should start in schools more than district. One should work harder. After getting into the team, I think one should work that much harder to stay in the team. One should have a lot of dedication and have to have their feet grounded." (ANI)