Anjum Chopra ©ICC

Anjum Chopra former Indian cricketer firmly believes that the impact of coronavirus is going to be huge on the cricket and states things will start to return to normal only gradually.

“As a nation, and as the world rather, I think the impact is massive and it’s going to be far greater than probably what we imagine or what we want to believe,” Chopra told IANSlife.

“I think we all want to believe that the day the lockdown finishes in our country and subsequently in other nations we are back to normalcy. But it’s going to be far from over and far from getting to normalcy. Cricket, will also take the kind of time as others. But again, there’s another opportunity; once this finishes, I think then it would be much easier to assess. From damage mode, we’d come to damage control mode and then rebuilding and revival.”

Chopra also added the women’s game has grown massively in India compared to what was it a few years ago. With brand endorsements and rise in money, the female cricketers’ value has increased dramatically.

“Whenever we have assessed the growth, I think it’s always been on the upscale and upswing,” said the recipient of Arjuna Award and Padma Shri.

“Ever since then I’ve been associated with the game, which has nearly been three decades, the game has always been improving, never been on a downslide. The awareness levels of the women’s game have most definitely risen. There is a marked improvement and it’s not only my belief. The numbers that ICC has released – in terms of the number of impressions that they received, people watching the World Cup final online or on television – show it has been on an upswing. The numbers of 2020 World Cup held in Australia were much higher than the last T20 World Cup in West Indies in 2018,” she said.

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During Chopra’s time in the early ’90s and 2000s, there was no professional contract in place for female cricketers. Now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has contracts in place with the highest slab of 50 lakhs rupees for top female cricketers in the country.

“When my team was playing, you started getting like a lakh rupees for an entire international tour. But the players have contracts now, the highest slab being 50 lakhs. It’s been a 180 degree shift. That has come a long way because of the consistent performances and awareness. It has increased and it will increase.”

The former left-handed batter believes women’s sport is heading in the right direction in India and with time the game will evolve more.

“People follow the game,” she said. “We are not living in a country where cricket is just a sport or just a recreational game or it’s one of the games. I think we live in a country where cricket is the most followed sport. It’s a religion. At least people love the game. So for us as players, more than half the job is done.”

Chopra like many other former and present cricketers is spending the lockdown time by trying new things in fitness and training.

“Doing my regular exercises, and something new as well. I’ve shifted over to more yoga and less running, but mixing them up. I’m also contributing in the daily chores since we have limited staff. Getting everything done, getting groceries takes half the day and the other half I have my own office work and pending jobs that couldn’t happen since I was travelling for work. I’m catching up on all that.”