29 Jun

India pace bowler Shikha Pandey said on Sunday that women’s cricket wouldn’t benefit from being tinkered and changed down to the size of the match balls and the sizes of the pitches and should instead get more attention in terms of marketing and grass-roots developments. The 30-year-old said that she has heard a lot of rumours about potential changes that would popularise women’s cricket, including changing the size of the ball, the pitch and shortening the boundaries.

“Growth can also be achieved by marketing the sport well. We don’t have to tinker with the rules or the very fabric of the game to attract an audience.

“Heavy investments at grass root levels, equal playing opportunities, zero discrimination etc.”

“Why not have DRS, Snicko, Hotspot, all of the technical acumen and live broadcast for every game that we play anywhere in the world.

Shikha expanded on the suggestions on Twitter. “I have been reading/ hearing a lot about the changes being suggested to help grow women’s cricket/ make it a more attractive product. I personally feel most of the suggestions to be superfluous,” she said.

“An Olympic 100m female sprinter doesn’t run 80m to win (gold medal) and clock the same timing as her male counterpart, so the whole decreasing the length of the pitch for whatever reasons seems dubious. Also, it almost definitely takes the double headers out of question.

“Reducing the size of the ball is fine, but as Ian Smith suggested, it only works if the weight remains the same. This will allow for bowlers to grip the ball better – more revs for the spinners – and hits will also travel further (not be the case if it is light).

“Please don’t bring the boundaries in! We have surprised you with our power-hitting in recent times, so remember, this is only the beginning; we will get better. Please have patience. We are skilled players, who are evolving.

Shikha said that women’s sport in general, should be seen as a different entity from the men’s game. She referenced the record crowd that the Melbourne Cricket Ground saw earlier this year for the Women’s T20 World Cup final.

“Please, don’t compare women’s sport, women’s cricket, in this case, with men’s sport. We need to see it as a different sport altogether. A sport that 86,174 spectators turned up to watch on March 8 and several million watched live on their television sets.

“They saw something special in us, and here’s hoping you do too! #FillTheMCG #WomensCricket #BetterEverday @ICC,” she concluded.

John Stephenson


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