T20 invitational tourney: Former players stumped by UTCA women’s team selection
Members of the sporting fraternity question top performers being snubbed, selection panel’s composition
The UT Cricket Association (UTCA) has come under criticism from former players for its selection of the senior women’s team for an upcoming T20 invitational tournament, set to be played in Raipur from September 16.
The clamour is largely centered on the three-member selection committee snubbing two bowlers — medium-pacer Rameeza Begam and off-spinner Monika Bishnoi — despite the duo doing considerably well in selection matches.
While Rameeza and Monika had taken seven wickets each over three match in the inter-zonal T20 domestic tournament that doubled as a selection trial. Notably,Tanya Sharma and Divya Sharma were included in the team despite taking no wickets in their three matches. Priyanka Guleria, who also made the squad had posted three dismissals in two matches.
Flagging the “bizarre” decision, a former first-class cricketer and also a seasoned coach who did not wish to be named, said, “Rameeza is the best athlete in the Chandigarh women cricket pool. It is surprising not to include a player like her and not give her a platform to test her skills and exposure.”
“Besides her wickets in the inter-zonal tournament, Rameeza also scored a handful of runs and remained unbeaten too on occasion. UCTA’s selection pattern is bizarre. Why not give a chance to youngsters like Rameeza and Monica?” the cricketer questioned.
UTCA, running in its fifth year since it got BCCI affiliation, has followed ambiguous rules when it comes to women’s cricket.
The selection committee that announced the final 15-member team for the T20 tournament, set to feature Chhattisgarh Cricket Association, Vidarbha, Odisha and Goa besides the UTCA, comprises former cricketers Anoop Sondhi, Kanwar Virdi and Richa Sehgal.
While the latter two are former first-class cricketers, Anoop has never played first-class cricket. Kanwar and Anoop came into the picture when UTCA received its BCCI affiliation in 2019, while Richa joined last season and brought female representation in the committee. It is also pertinent to recall that Anoop was in Canada for three months last season and was still made a part of the UTCA selection committee after attending online meetings and not watching a single game live.
The UTCA had in 2019 also attached Indu Gupta with the UTCA senior women’s and U-23 teams as the manager, without her having any background in cricket or any other sport. The BCCI guidelines note that former cricketers are more ideal for the position that Gupta holds. She is also a life member of the UTCA and, according to the rules, cannot hold another post.
“Why have selectors who have no clue about women’s cricket in the selection panel? UTCA made the right move to appoint Richa last year, but the BCCI had in 2019 given them affiliation to give the players the platform. Certainly, the deserving players are not getting that,” another former cricketer said.
Attempts to reach UTCA representatives for comments elicited no response.
Prior to 2019, Chandigarh players would represent either Haryana Cricket Association or Punjab Cricket Association.
The UTCA team is also set to miss top names including Amanjot Kaur, who shifted back to Punjab last season in hopes of finding better infrastructure and opportunities. After doing well in the domestic games for Punjab she made the India debut and bagged a place in the Women’s T20 Premier League team, Mumbai Indians team.
UTCA was also trying to bag seasoned players Taniya Bhatia and Kiran Navgire this, but both refused to make a shift. Adding to the woes, the association has not been able to take official control of any grounds in Chandigarh yet.
Notably, it is for the first time the Chandigarh senior women’s team will compete in an away tournament ahead of the domestic season. The two teams topping the points table will face each other in the final on September 25.
15-member squad: Kashvee Gautam (captain), Shivi Pandey, Palak Rana, Suman Rajput, Shivangi Yadav (wicketkeeper), Tanya Verma (wicketkeeper), Aaradhna Bisht, Ishana Chadha, Kumari Shibi, Nandini Sharma, Monika Pandey, Parul Saini, Priyanka Guleria, Divya Sharma and Rajni Devi. Pushpanji Banerjee (coach), Indu Gupta (manager), Omee Yadav (physiotherapist) and Suchi Kaushik (fitness trainer).