2017 World Cup a new dawn for women’s cricket in India and the world: Anjum Chopra | opinion | Hindustan Times
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2017 World Cup a new dawn for women’s cricket in India and the world: Anjum Chopra

The tournament captured public imagination and the final match was the most-watched final in the history of women’s cricket

opinion Updated: Aug 03, 2017 12:18 IST
Anjum Chopra
Former captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team, commentator and sportscaster Padma Shri Anjum Chopra.
Former captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team, commentator and sportscaster Padma Shri Anjum Chopra.

On the eve of the final of the Women’s World Cup 2017, we were at a dinner for commentators and production heads celebrating the culmination of yet another landmark event for us. Just then we were informed that Doordarshan, India’s national broadcaster, would be showing the final of the Women’s World Cup along with the host broadcaster Star Sports. Cheers and high-fives were exchanged.

Everyone thought that since India was playing the final there was interest in showing the match. On a Sunday, it would have entailed changing their programming. But then came the logic that it was a match of national interest.

Undoubtedly this was the most-watched final in the history of women’s cricket. It wasn’t a final where people just watched, they analysed the match. They participated in the run-up to the big final against England, the emotions that came along with it and the heartbreak if you were an Indian supporter. I gauged the impact as I walked into my office and people came up with their own analyses of the match and the tournament. It was impressive to say the least. The game had made an impact. The fact that Indian women were playing the finals in a World Cup in England with a capacity crowd at Lord’s got the pulse of the nation.

For sheer numbers and the passion for the game that exists in the subcontinent, India always has and will continue to play a big part in ICC’s efforts to promote the women’s game.

I have always felt that it’s the players who make an impact. In a chicken and egg story, who comes first? I’d say it is the players. Not that the administration can sit back and not participate and do its bit. We are a result-oriented country where mediocrity cannot be celebrated for long, not long enough to hold people’s attention, results need to be delivered and consistently. It is imperative that we (the Indian team) win a final and become world champions. Being crowned world champions is a big tag and a milestone achievement. Then you don’t need to remind people about yourself and the team’s achievements.

Anjum Chopra in action during the England vs India Women’s World Cup match in 2005. (Getty Images)

We, Indian women cricketers, were in the final of a World Cup earlier too. It was in 2005 in South Africa. It was the last time we played under the banner of the International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC). The International Cricket Council (ICC) took over the women’s game after that. Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami  are the only remaining members from that team. Harmanpreet Kaur debuted in 2009 and she was soon followed by Ekta Bisht. The 2017 side had better experience than that in 2005 as it was the first final for Indian women back then. The experience of the current team gave them an edge and helped them bounce back from setbacks. Their batting performance started going downhill after the victory in the first match against England. They lost to South Africa and Australia, after which the team faced a dire situation: Win against New Zealand or crash out of the tournament. The team survived and in the semis, defending champions Australia ran into Harmanpreet Kaur. The onslaught on the bowlers that happened after she got to her 100 was a spectacle. The confidence she exuded and carried into the dressing room after her knock provided the impetus to the bowlers to back that match-winning effort. A knock of 171 not out in 115 balls.

For sheer numbers and the passion for the game that exists in the subcontinent, India always has and will continue to play a big part in ICC’s efforts to promote the women’s game. I was involved as a commentator in the build-up to the World Cup since February 2017. Well supported by social media, the ICC managed to pique the interest of the audience successfully, making it the most watched and followed World Cup for women till date.

The credit must go to the ICC for globalising the game. With this massive audience and the popularity of the 2017 Women’s World Cup, it is a new dawn for women’s cricket in India and the world.

Padma Shri Anjum Chopra, an Arjuna award winner, is a former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, MCC member, commentator and sportscaster