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Women’s cricket at the 2022 Commonwealth Games: A leap forward

The success of women’s cricket at the 2022 Commonwealth Games could pave way for a shot at winning the holy sporting grail.

Last Updated: Aug 14, 2019, 11.44 PM IST|Original: Aug 14, 2019, 11.44 PM IST
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A medal would also bring cricketers opportunities to win government awards and claim jobs that otherwise lie outside their reach.
By Snehal Pradhan

The sporting world shifted on Tuesday, August 13. You probably didn’t notice, but you should have. Women’s T20 cricket was officially included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, signalling a return for cricket after its debut and only appearance in 1998. But unlike that occasion, where watered down men’s teams competed in Malaysia, the games that Edgbaston will host are of far greater significance, and could be the key to India’s ultimate sporting glory.

Why only women’s cricket, you may ask? Considering that for decades there have been more men’s events at multisport games than women’s, the answer is: Why not? The first Olympics which allowed women were in 1900, where women made up just 2.2 per cent of all competitors. 2022 will see a happy union between a host country that wants to push women’s cricket, and an event that makes history by including it.

The first standalone T20 Women’s World Cup held last year proved women could provide spectacle independent of men. And so England women, as current holders of the ODI World Cup, made a joint bid with the ICC for inclusion in Birmingham. Their acceptance means, for the first time in the history of major multi-sport games, there will be more women’s events (50.6 percent) than men’s (49.4).

Closer home, it is the revival of an opportunity that has been missed since 2010. Back then, the BCCI declined to send either men’s or women’s teams to the Asian Games, where cricket had been included. There was a resigned anger among the players, of whom I was then a part, directed at the BCCI, when we watched Pakistan win Gold in Guangzhou. That could have been us, we thought. That should have been us. Sure, the men had a packed calendar.

But women’s cricket was suffering a dearth of game-time, and we resented missing an opportunity, not once, but again in 2014.

This time around, there are no such fears. The profile of women’s cricket has changed significantly since 2017, as has the attitude of the administrators, and there would be a scandal if the BCCI declined to send a women’s team in 2022.

More importantly, it gives women’s cricket one more global trophy to vie for, a welcome boost to an ecosystem that still has blank spaces on the calendar. And medals in multisport games are like alchemy in reverse, spreading their shine to the grassroots. The story of the Pakistan women’s team is a case in point.

India’s loss was then Pakistan’s gain; they beat Sri Lanka in the final at Guangzhou 2010, returning home with a medal two shades brighter than their men’s team, and were feted as heroes. That win prompted the PCB to award central contracts to 19 players in 2011, making Pakistan the first Asian team to contract players.

They promptly registered their first ever T20I win against India next year.

Pakistan defended their gold medal in Incheon in 2014, and beat India again in the 2016 Women’s World T20.

Even though India are now the best paid female cricket team in the world, these Games wil l of fer some things which money can’t buy. One will be the chance to experience a multi-sport event. Cricket World Cups spread out the talent, with a dozen or so teams typically playing in half a dozen locations.

In 2022, Harmanpreet Kaur and Co.

will get to experience life in an athletes village, surrounded by thousands of the best from around the world. Inspiration will walk every sidewalk, excellence will sleep in every bed, and there will be opportunities to go for a late night coffee with PV Sindhu and Mirabai Chanu, discussing the unique challenges of being a female athlete in India.

A medal would also bring cricketers opportunities to win government awards and claim jobs that otherwise lie outside their reach, with cricket outside the ambit of the Sports Authority of India.

Most significantly, this could prove to be a dry run for cricket to finally appear at the Olympics again, with Los Angeles 2028 being optimistically discussed. USA Cricket has been making the right noises, and India’s attitude is shifting too. One major hurdle, of the BCCI coming under the ambit of the NADA and WADA, is closer than ever to being resolved.

And think about it; in which other sport are the Indian men’s and women’s teams among the top four in the world? The success of women’s cricket at Birmingham could pave the way for our best shot at winning the holy sporting grail: Olympic gold.

(The writer is former India cricketer)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of

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