Overseas players' disappointment understandable but happy that Women's T20 Challenge is happening: Mithali Raj

The BCCI’s decision to schedule Women’s T20 Challenge as a three-team event between November 1 and 10 during IPL play-offs week meant it will clash with the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). Many international players including the likes of Alyssa Healy, Australia’s wicket-keeper, and former England captain Charlotte Edwards have expressed their disappointment with the same.
Mithali Raj, India’s ODI skipper, however, feels the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did the right thing by deciding to stage Women’s T20 Challenge alongside Indian Premier League (IPL).
“I personally thought we may not even get to play the Challenger trophy (Women’s T20 Challenge) because even the men’s IPL was in doubt, but these games are most welcome,” Raj was quoted as saying by PTI.
“I know a lot of people have questioned the timing, but these are not normal circumstances. Normally, the IPL happens in April-May and doesn’t collide with WBBL. But these are unusual circumstances, the window was a short one and the BCCI did the best it could.”
Raj, who played 89 T20Is for India before retiring from the format last year, said she understood the disappoint of the overseas players and would like them to participate in the Women’s T20 Challenge tournament in normal circumstances.
“It is understandable. They also want to be part of the event. I, too, want the best players in the league. But the situation is not normal. Right now, there is hardly any sporting activity in India and to have the matches before the men’s IPL, it would require players to be in match mode. We are yet to start training,” Raj said.
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37-year-old Raj thinks it would have been difficult to play the Women’s T20 Challenge at the start of the IPL since Indian players haven’t resumed training post the restrictions imposed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even if we were to shift the Women’s Challenge to September, the girls would not be ready. Australia and New Zealand players have had more time than us to start their preparations for the season. Nobody understands this but are quick to judge,” she added.
BCCI also drew a lot of criticism from former Indian cricketers for their decision to pull the team out of proposed tour of England that was scheduled to start in September. Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, talked about the possibility of a preparatory camp and a series against South Africa before the Women’s T20 Challenge and a tour to the West Indies post the tournament.
“We have four series scheduled before World Cup but we are yet to get the dates. When the England tour got cancelled, players faced a lot of uncertainty and if there is nothing ahead you don’t what know you prepare for. So, the news of staging the IPL games is much needed.”
“More than the Women’s T20 Challenge games, I am relieved to have some cricket starting. That gives hope to other players to look forward to training and plan the season and not be in that uncertain mode. From what I heard we are going to have a camp sometime in September-October. That should help the team to re-group and assess themselves and accordingly plan ahead for the coming series,” she concluded.