Hyderabad: Till the merger of women’s cricket in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) fold, it was unthinkable for a woman cricketer to play in a match at Gymkhana or Uppal Stadium or any of the Hyderabad Cricket Association’s grounds. They were confined to RRC, Kasturba or Marredpally or Victory play grounds where the late TN Pillay took pains to successfully conduct the women’s cricket in the city.
In those prevalent conditions, one visionary late ML Jaisimha never thought of gender inequality. In a bold move as Hyderabad coach of the Ranji team, he even invited the then former Indian captain Purnima Rau to practice at Gymkhana grounds. “It was one of the boldest steps those days. It was so nice of uncle Jai (Jaisimha) then to make me practice along with Hyderabad Ranji teams,’’ she recalled.
Now times have changed. Thanks to the merger, the women’s cricketers are now able to play in HCA’s big grounds. Unfortunately, the HCA has shown very little enthusiasm in conducting matches for the women’s cricketers. Pillay and Jyoti Joshi as part of the AP Women’s Cricket Association managed to conduct many tournaments with the limited grounds and meager financial resources.
Indian captain Mithali Raj, Purnima Rau, Rajini Venugopal Rao, Diana David were among the internationals who were product of the women’s cricket matches in the city. The AP women’s team did exceedingly well in the national tournaments. However, ever since the merger, the women cricketers have no local leagues or tournaments as HCA has shown little interest in conducting the matches. They are straight away called to the camps and play the national tournaments. A few years ago, John Manoj as secretary of HCA, did manage to conduct some matches for women’s cricket.
Looking at the plight of the women’s cricketers in the city, the Incredible Sports Association has come forward to a tournament where for the first time these women cricketers will get to play alongside the boys players in the MV Sridhar under-16 memorial tournament.
Harinarayana Rao, one of the organisers, said they wanted to conduct at least four-team league tournament for the women players but could not hold it because of the lack of the players. “These women cricketers hardly have any tournament to play in the city and so we thought we will conduct something that will encourage women cricketers. However, we did not have sufficient strength to do a women’s tournament. So we came up with this idea of including two women players each in the eight teams. We have now 15 women players in the tournament,’’ he said, adding “we are taking this concept forward and we plan to hold it in a big way next year.’’
Shivani is all excited to play alongside the boys. “I’m happy girls are encouraged to play in these leagues, though there are more boys in the team. This tournament should be a regular feature. We can improve a lot,’’ she said.
Vidya Veera is wicketkeeper and batter. She hit 31 of 40 balls for Great Spinners on Monday. “I’m sure more girls will participate in the next year’s leagues,’’ she said. Pooja added that it is a wonderful opportunity to play in these leagues while Nidhi commented that she is excited to participate in the league for the first time.
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