Match ka mujrim

In my Morning Context column this month, I wrote about India’s semifinal exit at the Women’s World T20 championship and the narratives that proliferated in the wake of that defeat.

Harmanpreet Kaur (who was hospitalised with fever the evening before, and who played on a diet of paracetamol) was too casual in taking the second run. The fielders were crap — misfields gave away 20 or so runs; Meg Lanning was dropped shortly after she opened her account… Our lower order batters didn’t keep their nerve once Kaur got out…

Fair points, all of them — except that they count the trees while missing the forest. And alongside it runs a parallel narrative: that the WPL, which began on March 4, is the solution to all these ills; that the domestic league will produce so much talent that we will soon draw level with, and overtake, serial champions Australia.

I’ve been arguing for a while that the Indian women have the potential to be world-beaters — but the WPL is in and of itself not the solution the sport needs, any more than the IPL was for the men. There have been seven editions of the World T20 championships since the IPL started back in 2008 — and the Indian men haven’t one a single one of them. QED).

The crux of my piece is this: “In the past decade, the Indian women’s team has churned through as many as six different coaches, some of them holding office more than once. Anju Jain (2011-2013); Tushar Arothe (2013-2014); Purnima Rao (2014-2017); Arothe again (2017-2018); Ramesh Powar (2018); WV Raman (2018-2021); Powar again (2021-2022) and, taking office just a little over a month before the World T20, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who as batting coach doubled up as head coach because the BCCI couldn’t be bothered to appoint one.”

It’s a fairly simple argument, really — it is not high-profile domestic tournaments that will help you build a team, but steady, focussed, year-round effort not just by the players but also by the board.

Here is the piece (It’s behind a paywall, apologies to those of you who are not subscribers).

While on that, I’d written about the WPL in the previous edition of the column as well, focussing on the opportunities waiting for a smart board to take advantage of. And there is also this excellent Sharda Ugra piece in the Hindustan Times, where she talks of how the women’s team has gone from being a curiosity to be patronised to earning a growing fan base in its own right.

Also read this Forbes piece on how the WPL can build value over the coming years.