A few days ago, while I was watching India vs. Australia, my eight-year-old niece joined me and asked, ‘what is the score’? I promptly replied what I saw on the screen. Seconds later, her curious mind asked, ‘are they India and Australia?’
I wasn’t surprised, considering she has been asking me about cricket all these years. I looked at her and nodded, and went back to watching. She grabbed a chair and sat next to me.
Now for the first time that evening, her attention was entirely on the cricket match. She is sharp, and within no time, she enquired, ‘are these girls who are playing cricket?’
She looked at me, waiting for an answer, and at the same time, she was surprised.
“Yes, Meghna, it’s the Women’s World Cup.”
‘Oh, I didn’t know women had a cricket World Cup,’ she remarked.
This was the time I turned towards her and explained that women do play cricket, but not as much as the men do.
Meghna turned her attention back to the screen and said, ‘even I want to play cricket.’
“You know, Switzerland has a women’s team now. And, I will take you to their training session. You can see it for yourself.”
She was excited, and soon we saw the Indian women’s team taking the Australian team’s final wicket and thereby giving themselves a chance to win their maiden World Cup.
Meghna trains with her school friends in the local football team, where she is an aspiring goalkeeper. She occasionally plays cricket with me and boasts; she shook hands with Rahul Dravid as a three and half-year-old (and aptly, an autographed bat hangs on her room wall).
Today the women in blue came agonisingly close, and there are reasons why they didn’t win; however, today or this article isn’t the right forum to dissect the performance.
Instead, I would remember this World Cup as a catalyst and the enormous impact these Indian cricketers have had on many people living in India and abroad.
Cricket is a career option for Indian women, and this message has come out loud and clear.
These cricketers’ performance in the past weeks has given a much-needed boost, and only time will tell how India as a women’s cricketing nation will progress. It looks promising!
My gut feeling is that it has already inspired many young girls like Meghna, who can now seriously consider cricket as a career option or as an avenue to express themselves. Irrespective of whether they go on to play for the national team, a path has been carved.
I am disappointed like any other fan to see the team losing; however, looking at a broader picture, the year 2017 will be a defining year in the annals of Indian women’s cricket, just like 1983 remains for Indian cricket general.