Reporter: “How much confidence do you take from the England men who chased down that total yesterday in Barbados?”
England captain, Heather Knight, with her most polite smile: “None at all. We’re here to answer questions about women’s cricket.”
Women’s Cricket has come a long way since the first recorded match on 28 July 1745 in England. The game has evolved and has been recognised. Many young girls aspire to be a cricketer of tomorrow. Here are 10 defining moments of Women’s Cricket and how it’s a sport in itself:
1. First Women’s World Cup: The first World Cup was held in England in 1973, interestingly, two years before the inaugural men’s tournament. The event’s early years saw lack of funding, which led to a decline in invitations to several teams to the competition. However, since 2005 World Cup has been hosted at regular four-year intervals. The eleven World Cups played to date have been held in five countries, with India and England has hosted the event three times. England won the first edition of the tournament.
2. Belinda Clark double-century in 1997 World Cup: Belinda Clark was the first ever batter to score a double century in Women’s One Day International. She scored an unbeaten 229 against Denmark in 1997 World Cup. Her record was recently broken by Amelia Kerr of New Zealand with the score of unbeaten 232 against Ireland. In Men’s One Day International, Sachin Tendulkar scored 200 runs in 2010, 13 years after Clark to reach the milestone of 200 runs in an ODI as an individual.
3. 1997 World Cup final: India hosted the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup which was a grand affair with 32 matches between a record 11 teams across 25 cricket grounds. The final between Australia and New Zealand took place on 29 December at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Australia won their 4th championship title against New Zealand in front of 80,000 spectators.
4. The central contract for top teams:
- India- The BCCI awarded contracts to women cricketers for the first time in the 2015-16 year. Contracts are pay graded according to the importance of the player. In 2018, India’s top tire of women cricketers i.e Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana were awarded Grade A contract for Rs 50 lakhs each (about $76,750).
- Pakistan- PCB introduced their contract in 2016, after the team’s impressive performances in the World T20 as well as for maintaining a decent record in 2015. The national women’s team, under the leadership of Sana Mir, was awarded contracts effective from 1 January 2016.
- England- ECB introduced the central contracts to 18 players in May 2014. England upgraded the contracts in 2017 and also introduced two-year contracts for the first time with an additional new level of rookie contracts.
- Australia- Australia has been one of the paymaster’s of women’s cricket alongside England. In 2017 after a huge dispute, it was agreed that the Australian women would be paid equal to the Australian men.
- New Zealand- In 2016, New Zealand Cricket brought in a new deal three-year deal which ensured 15 White Ferns earn from $20,000 to $34,000 a year which was an upgrade from $10,000 to $12,000. With match fees of $400 for ODI and $300 for T20 games, leading White Ferns earn more than $40,000 per annum, excluding prize money, fees from playing in overseas leagues, or endorsements.
- South Africa- South Africa’s first ever central contract was announced in 2013 including initially 6 players that are presently, extended to 14 players. CSA stated that 2018 contract for the Proteas had risen after the team’s spectacular show in Women’s World Cup. However, the contract amount has not been disclosed since the very beginning.
5. Women’s Big Bash League: The WBBL is the Australian women’s domestic Twenty20 cricket competition. They replaced the Australian Women’s Twenty20 Cup, which ran from the 2007–08 season through to the 2014–15 season. This was the first that franchise cricket entered the women’s market. WBBL also televised the matches and promoted international cricketers as well. The competition features eight city-based franchises, branded identically to the franchises in the men’s Big Bash League. The current champions of this tournament are the Brisbane Heat.
6. ICC Women’s Championship: The ICC Women’s Championship is an international cricket tournament used to determine qualification for the Women’s Cricket World Cup. The introduction of ICC Women’s Championship made it mandatory for all the teams to play each other in a bilateral series. Currently, the tournament is contested between the top eight teams of the ICC Women’s Rankings. In September 2018, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced that they are exploring the option to expand it to all ten teams, therefore including Bangladesh and Ireland in future editions of the competition.
7. Mithali Raj crossing 6,000 run mark: Indian captain Mithali Raj became the highest run-getter and the first woman cricketer to score 6000 runs and counting in ODIs. She surpassed Charlotte Edwards to elevate to the top. She has currently played 203 ODIs, scoring 6720 runs at an average of 51.29 and has so far scored seven centuries and fifty-two half-centuries. Her highest being 114 not out. She has also taken eight wickets with her part-time leg-break bowling, with 3-for-4 being her best numbers.
8. 2017 World Cup – Harmanpreet Kaur semifinal: During the semi-final of ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 against holders and six-time champions Australia, Harmanpreet Kaur single-handedly led her team to the the Final with a blistering 171 run knock from mere 115 balls including 20 boundaries and seven sixes. India were 35/2 when the 28-year-old played a match-winning knock to get India to the World Cup Final.
9. Jhulan Goswami became the first to 300 international wickets: Jhulan Goswami became the first woman to pick up 300 international wickets. She reached the milestone against Sri Lanka during India’s first ODI match held on 11 September 2018. Since then Goswami has reached 314 wickets across all the three formats with 40 wickets in 10 Tests, 218 in 177 ODIs and 56 in 68 T20.
10. Standalone T20 World Cup- The 2018 T20 World Cup was the first standalone T20 tournament in the history of Women’s cricket. The edition was hosted in West Indies, played between ten teams and have been divided into two groups. The previous seasons of the tournament were held in the years – 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 – were held alongside the men’s event.