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Women’s Cricket in India: How Far Has It Come?

Posted: July 10, 2020

In recent years, there has been a refined focus on developing women’s cricket in India.

The bat-and-ball game is undoubtedly the South Asian country’s most popular sport, with it being a core element of Indian culture. Moreover, while the 16th-century sport has traditionally been viewed as a male-dominated activity, contemporary alterations suggest an ever-growing positive perception of the women’s game.

So, let’s take a look at the rise of women’s cricket within India. 

The Potential to Change the Status Quo? 

While many factors can be attributed to the rising popularity of women’s cricket in India, one of the central reasons revolves around the female version of the T20 Cricket World Cup. Crucially, the tournament, which was held in Australia between February 21st and March 8th 2020, set a new record in becoming the most-watched women’s cricket event ever, as per a report by SportsPro Media.  

Having amassed a total of 701 million video views, this surpassed the previous record from the 2017 Cricket World Cup by approximately 601 million. In comparison to aspects of the men’s game, The Hindu report that the event itself was the most-watched ICC cricket competition after the men’s ODI World Cup. 

However, while there are clear indications that women’s cricket is on the rise within the South Asian country, there is still scope for further progression in the future. From an on-field standpoint, steps have unquestionably been taken in the right direction as the female team secured their first final at the 2020 World Cup. Although they ultimately tasted defeat to Australia, it’s undoubtedly an indication that steady growth is being accomplished.  

Fundamentally, for the women’s game to reach new, unprecedented heights in the coming years, then the need for increased investment and marketing cannot be ignored. According to Shikha Pandey, a right-arm medium bowler, she believes that financial factors, as opposed to potential rule changes, will have a positive effect on the long-term outlook of women’s cricket. Through investing in heightened live broadcasting, as well as pay-related issues, the grassroots level, and equal playing opportunities, considerable growth could be achieved, as per The New Indian Express.  

How Does it Compare to the Men’s Game? 

As touched upon above, numerous differences remain between both female and male cricket in India. Importantly, as suggested at the Medium, although there are several reasons for the apparent gulf within cricket in India, some of the inequalities can be explained by the actions of the Board Control for Cricket in India. There’s a widespread that, unlike the men’s game, the same measures aren’t in place for the women’s game regarding the sport’s promotion.  

In turn, this has unquestionably had a knock-on effect on the status of female cricketers within the South Asian country. Intriguingly, the 2018 Best Women’s International Cricketer, Smriti Mandhana, declared that professional female participants could only get recognized by ten people out of a group of 100 in a public setting, showcasing the lack of marketing surrounding women’s cricket.   

Source: Unsplash

Furthermore, on a global basis, the broadcasting inequalities are there for all to see. However, such gulfs between men’s and women’s cricket stretch beyond its televised nature. Concerning prize money, although there is a long-standing desire to build a sustainable future within women’s cricket, financial rewards still fall far behind the men’s game. In 2019, it was announced that the total prize pool for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021 would increase to $3.5 million. In comparison, a $10 million prize pot was divided during the Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2019. 

Additionally, when you analyze elements of pop culture related to the bat-and-ball sport, the men’s game has become popular within many different markets. For example, numerous contemporary platforms now provide male-orientated fantasy cricket games. Moreover, the sports betting opportunities at Royal Panda cover a whole host of male events, including, as of June 29th, the European T10 Cricket Series, St Lucia T10 Blast, Twenty20 Premier League, and many more.  

Foundations for Future Growth 

Ultimately, although discrepancies remain between men’s and women’s cricket, the steady rise of the female game is encouraging. Even though total equality is unlikely to be implemented imminently, the viewing success of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2020 indicates that women’s cricket, particularly in India, is heading in the right direction.

Top image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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