India pacer Shikha Pandey, in a series of tweets, suggested that women’s cricket needed better marketing and focus on grassroots as opposed to tinkering with the rules for attracting a wider audience.
There have been murmurs within cricketing circles about introducing shorter boundaries and lighter balls in the women’s game.
Weighing in on the matter, Pandey wrote: “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.
“An Olympic 100m female sprinter doesn’t run 80m 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.”
The 30-year-old welcomed the idea of reducing the size of the ball but pointed out the power-hitters in women’s cricket grabbing the headlines in the last few years. Teenage opener Shafali Verma became a household name during the T20 World Cup earlier this year with her boundary-hitting pyrotechnics.
“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),” Pandey said.
“Please don’t bring the boundaries in! We have surprised you with our power-hitting in recent times, so remember, this is only the beginning; we will get better. Please have patience. We are skilled players, who are evolving. 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.”
Women’s cricket has perennially got a raw deal with the broadcasters and Pandey called for the stakeholders of the game to invest in bringing the game to television sets as well as getting equal amount of playing time compared to her male counterparts. The T20 World Cup final between India and Australia saw 86,174 supporters turn up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Pandey added: “Why not have DRS, Snicko, Hotspot, all of the technical acumen and live broadcast for every game that we play anywhere in the world. Heavy investments at grass root levels, equal playing opportunities, zero discrimination etc.
“Please, don’t compare women’s sport, women’s cricket, in this case, with men’s sport. 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.”