The BCCI’s decision to pull the women’s national team out their England tour used to be “not a case of neglect”, former India captain and Apex Council member Shanta Rangaswamy said on Monday, arguing that there hadn’t been enough time to make arrangements. Rangaswamy said the situation used to be not in the BCCI’s keep watch over and that “even nature” – in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic – used to be conspiring against women’s cricket.
“It isn’t a case of neglect. You want a minimum of six weeks to be match fit and with the Covid-19 affecting most a part of the country, is it conceivable to organise a training camp correct absent? Then you would also have 14-day quarantine in England,” she told PTI.
India were scheduled to tour England for a bilateral limited-overs series in July-August this year. That couldn’t happen as a result of the pandemic, but the ECB had suggested tweaking it into a tri-series, also involving South Africa, tentatively in September. But it used to be cancelled after the BCCI opted to pull out.
Though the Indian board didn’t say anything officially, as reported by ESPNcricinfo, the withdrawal used to be primarily as a result of the worsening Covid-19 situation in India. The ECB, then again, is understood to have been prepared to cover costs for India’s accommodation and shuttle, including a constitution flight whether required, as the English board has done for the West Indies and Pakistan men’s teams currently touring the United Kingdom.
“There used to be just not enough time to make it happen. Covid-19 has hurt world cricket, more so women’s cricket,” Rangaswamy said. “We have gone back a few years after a record attendance for the T20 World Cup last at MCG in March. It is sad and an anti-climax.”
It is unclear whether concerns over players getting adequate pre-tour training played a part in the cancellation. The BCCI is expected to organise a biosecure training camp in Ahmedabad for the men’s team ahead of their tour of Australia in December, according to an Indian Express outline. With a women’s ODI World Cup scheduled in New Zealand in February-March, questions occur around if the board has let go a chance for its women – particularly ODI stalwarts Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, who haven’t played international cricket since early November final year – to receive some much-needed game time under their belts.
“People doubting BCCI’s intentions must wait for things to be normal before passing their verdict. The situation used to be not in their keep watch over on this occasion. The late announcement on the men’s T20 World Cup postponement has also provided the BCCI little time to prepare for the IPL”
Then there is the Women’s T20 Challenge, typically played alongside the IPL. The rescheduled IPL this year is clashing with the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, where a minimum of three Indian players are expected to take part.
“It looks like even nature is conspiring against women’s cricket,” Rangaswamy said. “Final year, a third team used to be added to the IPL Women’s Challenge, this year it used to be supposed to be four. Now the shift of venue. More importantly, it is clashing with the Women’s Big Bash, which used to be already scheduled. Let’s see what the IPL Governing Council comes to a decision.
“Going to England used to be more important than the IPL exhibition games. England tour would have been ideal preparation for the World Cup.”
With no selectors in place and no tours lined-up, women’s cricket in India is facing uncertainty after the gains over the past three years, which included runners-up finishes at the 50-over World Cup in 2017 and then at the T20 World Cup earlier this year. Rangaswamy, then again, wanted to give the BCCI the advantage of the doubt on the matter.
“The post-Covid-19 scenario will be a testament to their [BCCI’s] commitment on women’s cricket,” she said. “People doubting BCCI’s intentions must wait for things to be normal before passing their verdict. The situation used to be not in their keep watch over on this occasion. The late announcement on the men’s T20 World Cup postponement has also provided the BCCI little time to prepare for the IPL.”