There's a scene in the movie 'Chak De India' where the Indian women's hockey team has to go up against the men's team in order to go to the World Championships. They lose the match, but eventually end up being sent for the tournament anyway for the spunk they display during the match. They go on to clinch the championship and become World Champions.
The Indian women's cricket team must be ruing the fact that they never got such a chance. All they got was a 'NO' from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The Asian Games starting in Incheon, South Korea, next week will the second consecutive Games to include cricket in its repertoire. And for the second time, the BCCI has refused to send a team saying their schedule is “too tight”.
While the men's were being beaten in Tests in England in August, Indian women beat their English counterparts in four days. And to think that they were playing a 'Test' after a eight-year hiatus. And as the administration would like us to believe, playing a five-day Test (once) in eight years in “too tight”.
Since the women's team came under BCCI's ambit in 2006, they have regressed dramatically. While they kept pouring riches on the men's team, the women sinked deeper into oblivion. The moment BCCI took rein's of women's cricket, it scrapped the Under-16 and Inter-zone tournaments.
A Women's World Cup game in 2013 which was to be held at the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai, was moved as to accommodate a Ranji match.
Women in all other sporting disciplines have been making a mark on the global circuit, the chief credit going to multi-disciplinary events like Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian Games. Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, MC Mary Kom have become household names today. All of them have won laurels for the nation at these competitions.
The XX Commonwealth Games held in July this year threw up names like Sushila Likmabam (Judo), Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics) and Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu (Weightlifting) – all of whom who hailed from the northeast. And the former two names went on to win medals in disciplines that probably even the most ardent sports fanatic in India wouldn't have expected.
The Indian women's cricket had a golden chance to win a medal at the Asian Games. This would have not only gotten them laurels, but also recognition.
Being a cricketer is considered to be a 'glamourous' profession in India. (You hit one good knock and sponsors and fans swoon over you.) One should try asking this question to Mithali Raj, or Jhulan Goswami, or Shikha Pandey, or Harmanpreet Kaur – all of whom have been plying their trade for India for many years now.
The 2014 Asian Games are definitely a chance missed for our women.