Earlier last month, ICC had conducted a webinar for women’s cricket in which New Zealand captain Sophie Devine and Indian superstar batter Jemimah Rodrigues made and agreed to a few suggestions to attract new audience and make the game more popular. To which, India’s leading wicket-taker Jhulan Goswami questioned the need to change anything.
During the ICC webinar, Devine had suggested to reduce the size of the ball to ‘help the game flourish’, while Rodrigues recommended shortening the length of the pitch. Before Jhulan Goswami could comment on it, it was Indian pacer, Shikha Pandey, who took it to Twitter saying not to ‘change the basic fabric of the game in order to attract new viewership.’
On the webinar, Devine said, “I am a probably bigger fan of smaller ball but keeping the pitch as same size. Bowlers are going to bowl quicker, spinners will be able to turn the ball more and hopefully the ball should fly further.”
Expressing her disagreement, Pandey tweeted a series of tweet, calling the new suggestions ‘superfluous’. While she agreed to reduce the size of the ball, Shikha also mentioned it wouldn’t make a difference in the weight of the ball. However, she totally rubbished the idea of decreasing the length go the pitch.
Pandey wrote, “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.”
Jhulan Goswami backed Pandey’s opinion, saying there no such need of changes to be implemented in women’s cricket just to attract new audience. The game is observing an improvement in players’ skills as well as gaining popularity.
When asked about her views, the former India skipper said, “Shikha Pandey has already tweeted and I appreciate her thought. I truly agree with her. Let pitches (sizes) remain the same. (As far as) ball size in women’s cricket (is concerned), we already use smaller ball than what is used in men’s cricket.”
“You don’t require so much changes to glamourise women’s cricket. In 2017 World Cup final, you saw a full house. Highest viewership in television. In 2020, last T20 World Cup, more than 80,000 spectators came to watch the match. What is the need of changing anything?”
She further mentioned that the game is improving in terms of visibility and viewership. The cricketers have improved by leaps and bounds and one can naturally see a good bounce or a flying six time and again, and a gutsy effort to take a wicket.
“The girls are improving in every skill, be it fielding or power hitting. They are hitting sixes and boundaries more often, throwing from the boundary line has improved and so has running between the wickets. I don’t think so you need to change a lot of things.”
Having said that, Jhulan Goswami is also glad to see the attention and focus given to women’s cricket. The talks about this particular sport is a good sign about how things are changing.
“I am glad that people are thinking of women’s cricket. Earlier, these talks were not around us. Now, people are at least talking about it. Good sign that people are putting an effort, putting out an thought around women’s cricket. I am happy people are taking care of women’s cricket in that way,” she further added.
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