Hyderabad: ‘’The old wounds have been reopened. I was sacked in 2017 just two months from the World Cup in England. A coach’s job in the women’s cricket team has become vulnerable,’’ said Purnima Rau, the former Indian coach and captain.
Reacting to the sacking of WV Raman and the controversy that is surrounding the Indian team, Purnima said: “I was removed after we won the ICC qualifiers for the World Cup against South Africa in Sri Lanka in the finals with Harmanpreet (Kaur) hitting the winning six. They did not have the courtesy to inform me before they replaced me with Tushar Arothe. I had built the team after I came for the second time in 2014. We won eight series, including the historic T20 series against Australia when we beat them in their own den 2-1 and then one fine morning I was asked to go.
“Something is really wrong somewhere as we had four coaches in the last five years. But some players have scant respect for the coaches. This is a harsh reality,’’ said 53-year-old Purnima, who has been at peace with her organic farming in Mulugu (outskirts of the city).
Purnima said she was a victim both during her playing days and as a coach as well. “I was humiliated when I was removed as captain in the 90s. We made history when we won the three-nation tournament in 1995 in New Zealand. My success rate as a coach is a testimony of the sacrifice, dedication and hard work. I had dreamt of golden days for women’s cricket but BCCI stole those moments from me.’’
The team, according to Purnima, was a happy bunch, willing to learn, not spoiled by money. “It was fun to work with them. Things changed once the money came in and it was a different culture eversince. I worked overtime. I brought a new confidence into the team after we lost to South Africa and England in 2014. I went as a coach to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2015, after that I was removed. Sudha Shah took over as coach for the South African and England series. The team didn’t do well and I was brought back against New Zealand and won the series. We won the Asia Cup also. We would have been World No.2 but we lost the opportunity as we did not play a series against Pakistan.
“The team made history in Australia. I introduced some innovative ideas into the team. I arranged golf games so that the swing can help the players hit the lofted shots. In fact, one of the reasons India beat Australia in Australia was when I gave them the license to play bold cricket. Unfortunately, I’m a forgotten coach now. I still don’t understand where I have gone wrong? No one talked about my contribution as a coach to the team when the team entered the World Cup in 2017. A coach just can’t prepare a winning team in a month or in six months or a year. It takes time. ’’
Purnima added the girls are talented but they need to be nurtured properly. “The players need to be handled as sometimes success spoils them. I hope there is better relation between the coach and captain in future.’’
Now is time to introspect, sit back and analyse how much women’s cricket in India has been badly managed and has harmed the game.
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