Onus on the players to take women’s cricket in India to the next level, says Anjum Chopra
Anjum Chopra, former India skipper, says the Women’s T20 Challenge will serve as a big test for the players as they will be returning to cricket after a long break induced by the restrictions that are in place owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It will be a challenging tournament as players are playing after a long time,” Chopra told ANI. “It depends on players what they have done in the last months. They will get plenty of time to train here before the competition.”
This year’s Women’s T20 Challenge was to be played as a four-team event during the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April-May, but was postponed along with the IPL. In August, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that the competition would be played as a three-team event between November 1 and 10, during IPL play-off weekend. Unfortunately, the timing of the tournament means many overseas players will be missing due to the clash with the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).
“In the ideal conditions it was supposed to be held in India but now only three teams will play as [many] foreign players will not feature in the tournament. I think players should have to do their practice at home as arranging practice or warm-up matches is not the responsibility of the board. I do not think there would be a practice match,” Chopra said.
The left-hander, who played for India in 157 internationals, feels BCCI is doing plenty to promote the women’s game and it’s up to the players to win a World Cup to change the outlook of women’s cricket in India.
“I think BCCI is doing enough to promote the women’s game in the country. Players need facilities and matches which are already present. The matches can be increased while the facilities are getting better day by day,” she added.
“I think the ball is now at the players’ court, how well they can do. This is now the time to win the World Cup. We have played the final for two-three times. The day we win the World Cup, it will be a different look for women’s cricket in India and worldwide. The only focus should be on becoming the World Champion.”
Chopra, part of the commentary team in the IPL, says she found it difficult to go through the mandatory quarantine period that is in place due to the global pandemic, but believes being in the bio-bubble won’t put any additional pressure on the players.
“I definitely think it is a challenge, first of all when I was coming here, I was told they have one week of quarantine. First, it was 14 days, and then they reduced it to seven days and you cannot meet anybody. It already seems horrible because sitting at home by choice, but when you are restricted you feel like you are trapped; that is why it is challenging although most of the things are open. Still, we need to take care of other people also, but as you said this is the new normal so we all have to go according to it.”
“I don’t think the players should worry about anything other than performing well. When you are living in a bubble, there are fewer chances of worrying for players, considering they will only have to focus on their game. There are a lot of restrictions on our part too, and we are slowly adapting to the new normal. We all are fortunate that we are part of something which is important for people and we are giving a smile back to the fans all around the world,” Chopra concluded.