Women Will No Longer Play Second Fiddle In Cricket – Players Or Fans!

Growth of women’s cricket has garnered a huge following over the years and demonstrated ability to drive substantial audiences.

As I pen down this piece, I find myself in the process of recuperating from the distress caused by the Indian team’s defeat in the finals of the recently concluded Cricket World Cup 2023. Despite our team delivering an outstanding performance throughout the tournament, the loss in the final has left a lasting impact.

As a devoted fan, I diligently followed every match played by India, a consistent ritual that has spanned approximately two and a half decades.

Growing up with sports lovers at home

Growing up with a sports enthusiast father ensured that the love for cricket was ingrained in me from an early age. While my earliest recollection of sitting through an entire match dates back to the 1999 Cricket World Cup, my subconscious mind like Abhimanyu from Mahabharat has somehow retained names of all the Indian players who have played International cricket in the ’80s and early ’90s, even including few non-Indian cricketers such as Sir Ian Botham, Martin Crowe, Graham Gooch, Malcolm Marshall etc.

Later during the formative years I was privileged enough to attend a school with extensive facilities, including a sprawling playground and pool. So, I had the chance to try my hand at various sports without encountering any gender-based restriction, which meant I wasn’t accorded or denied opportunities based on gender. I pursued all my hobbies and habits according to personal choice; consuming cricket, following the stats of my favourite cricketers and then discussing them with friends and family certainly being one of them. Cricket has always been a valuable conversation topic during social gatherings for me.

More women are now embracing their love of cricket

This ongoing trend of cricket becoming increasingly embraced by both men and women is undeniably a positive development, exemplifying a more inclusive and egalitarian approach to the sport, dismantling traditional gender barriers.

The landscape of sports viewing in India, once predominantly a male-centric pastime, has undergone a noticeable transformation in the last two decades, signalling a shift in trends as we observe a consistent rise in female viewership who share an equal enthusiasm for watching sports on television or OTT platforms. Whether it’s a working woman or a housewife carving out time to enjoy her favourite game amid the demands of work and daily chores; playing a pivotal role in reshaping the narrative and ensuring that gender no longer dictates sports viewership.

The increase in limited over format of cricket has also greatly contributed to this trend. With the rise of IPLs and T20 cricket, it has further fuelled a growing interest in women’s consumption of cricket around the world.

The world should also embrace women who enjoy cricket

In fact not just as the audience, growth and popularity of women’s cricket has also garnered popularity over the years and demonstrated ability to drive substantial audiences. However, relying solely on male viewership or expecting men to fill stadiums in large numbers to popularize women’s cricket is not realistic. A sport thrives on its fans, and the increasing interest from diverse segments of the population is a promising sign.

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The credit goes to our heroes of the game who have placed India prominently on the world map creating a historic legacy. It’s a matter of great pride for India that the leading run scorers in International cricket in both Men’s and Women’s cricket are Indians. In a career spanning more than two decades, Mithali Raj has inspired generations of youngsters and budding sportspersons. Moreover, she is merely one example; there are numerous others.

Witnessing such women as idols breaking barriers is truly heartening. While there is still a considerable journey ahead in terms of fighting societal stigmas and peer pressure yet the growing interest in sports bodes well for the future of Indian cricket, sports and nation as a whole.

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About the Author

Anuradha Gupta

A 35 year old educator from Gurgaon, Anuradha has done B.Tech plus MBA. A teacher and writer by passion, she began her career with Risk Consulting and Internal Audit, and later moved to the read more...

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