Indian women’s ODI captain Mithali Raj acknowledged the fact that not having the desired bench-strength is a reality and it will take at least two more years before the next crop of international standard players emerges. Recently, the women’s team got defeated 0-3 by their Australian counterparts but more importantly, they didn’t have apt replacements for a lot of non-performers.
Apart from Jemimah Rodrigues, no top quality player has emerged from the women’s game with most players have been around for 3-4 years now. Addressing the issues, Raj said, “We have just started with India A tours and formation of an A team, since last year, after we came back from the World Cup. It will take a couple of years to get our second string in place. I am sure in a year or two, we will have a better quality of players playing India A.”
Despite the fact that India thrashed Australia in the World Cup semi-final in England but Mithali conceded that Southern Stars are a far more superior team than the ‘Women In Blue’ any day. When asked to rate among Australia, South Africa, and England, Mithali said: “Australia is top-most because they have a batting line-up, which goes deep and they are a good fielding squad. In all three departments, they are great.”
Praising young Rodrigues, the skipper also said, “Its always good to (make) it to the Indian squad, at the young age, because you have those years backing you. Likewise, Smriti (Mandhana) debuted early, so is Deepti Sharma. And we have Jemmy, who has done well in the domestic season, and it was the right time to give her that opportunity.”
She further added, “She is used to playing in Mumbai and Baroda, she is one of those players for the future, we have Pooja Vastrakar, we have Tania Bhatia (wicket-keeper), we have five-six of young girls, who have got into the T20 and ODI squad in South Africa and we need to invest in them.”
Mithali also praised the BCCI’s decision of giving contracts to women cricketers, saying that players should invest more as they know that they are getting paid well to put in their best effort.
When asked about the plans of women IPL, Mithali Raj asserted that an IPL-like event for women will make sense only when the BCCI has in place for them a “strong domestic” setup. She said, “It’s important to have the pool of players, who will be qualified to play IPL kind of a league. Once we have those many players then it will be wise enough to have an IPL.”
The BCCI is organizing exhibition matches for women during the upcoming Indian Premier League’s 11th season. With people starting to look up to the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali and Jhulan Goswami, the BCCI decided to organize these exhibition matches.”
Talking about women’s IPL further, Mithali said, “You can feed in any domestic (players) but then there will be a stark difference between an international player and domestic player. So, I personally believe that when you have strong domestic set-up and churning quality players than giving them an opportunity in IPL makes sense.”
Quizzed how would the team address the issue of power-hitting, Mithali said, “That’s what Australia has been doing since the past couple of years, they have picked up players and they know what they need to do, we need to do the same. We have power hitters — Harmapreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy.”