In an innovation webinar organized by the governing International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this month, New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and India’s Jemimah Rodrigues had suggested a bunch of ideas to help women’s cricket attract more audiences to their game.
Indian pace bowler, Shikha pandey, however, in a series of tweets on June 27 termed most of these suggestions ‘superfluous’. Pandey stressed on the need to market the women’s cricket well to attract more audiences rather than tinkering with the rules or the very fabric of the game.
“Growth can also be achieved by marketing the sport well. We don’t have to tinker with rules or the very fabric of the game to attract an audience,” countered Pandey with her tweet.
Idea of shorter pitches dubious
The 31 year old cricketer rejected most of the suggestions, “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.”
On suggestions to decrease the length of the pitch for women’s cricket, Shikha Pandey termed it dubious and pointed that an Olympic 100 m female sprinter did not run 80 m to win and clock the same timing as her male counterpart.
“An Olympic 100 m female sprinter doesn’t run 80 m to win 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,” tweeted Pandey.
New Zealand captain Sophie Divine had mooted a smaller ball without changing the length of the pitch to make the women’s game more entertaining.
“I’m probably a big fan of looking at a smaller ball, but keeping the pitch the same size, where I think pacers are going to be able to bowl quicker, spinners are going to be able to turn the ball more.
“Hopefully, the ball should fly a bit further as well whereas still keeping the traditional length of the pitch,” said Sophie Divine during the ICC webinar on innovation.
Pandey tweeted, “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).”
Women’s cricket evolving have patience
Shikha pandey also said that this is only the beginning for them and they are evolving, “we will get better. Please have patience. We are skilled players, who are evolving.”
Shikha Pandey, who is the mainstay of Indian women’s team line up, suggested heavy investments at grass root levels, equal playing opportunities, zero discrimination etc. for the growth of the women cricketers.
Pandey asked people not to compare women’s sports and cricket to men’s sports and cricket and tweeted, “We need to see it as a different sport altogether… A sport that 86,174 spectators turned up to watch on March 8, 2020 and several million watched live on their television sets. They saw something special in us, and here’s hoping you do too!”
Notably ICC women’s T20 World Cup 2020 finals between India and Australia was the most watched women’s game.