There is a spurt in girls wanting to play cricket. The images of Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur excelling on the international stage are inspiring a legion of youngsters to look at cricket as a career option.
Evidence lies in Madhya Pradesh, where the women cricketers, some still in teens, are engaged in 50 overs contests in scorching heat. The state association, despite the unfriendly conditions, is conducting the inter-district matches in peak summer but the girls are hardly complaining; they have no choice or say in the scheduling of the matches.
The National Cricket Academy, in keeping with the onus on promoting women’s cricket, held a two-week camp in Baroda to identify talented spinners and wicket-keepers. The results, according to coaches Nayan Mongia and Rajkumar Sharma, have been encouraging.
“Some of the girls are very good and some ready to represent the country,” said Sharma, who trained six leg-spinners, four-left spinners and two off-spinners at the camp.
“The girls feel leg-spinners have better chances after watching the IPL. In women’s cricket, spinners tend to do well because you need power to hit the slow bowlers. This is one area where the women cricketers lag. They are good in skills but need to work on their endurance.”
Mongia found his 12 trainees keen to improve. “They are really good learners but they need to work on their fitness. In wicket-keeping, you have to be strong or else you end up making mistakes because you lose your concentration. The only problem women cricketers would face is lack of strength. But this was the first camp for most of them and one can hope they would come back better prepared the next time.”
In Mongia’s opinion, the girls would be better off if they were provided, regular coaching in the states. "Follow-up is important after such camps. They need to work on the basics like staying cool, improving their batting too, things like getting up with the ball and being on the toes, not heels.”
Mongia picked Hemali Borwankar, Tanya Bhatia, Sweta Verma and Prema Paul as most impressive while Sharma felt Radha Yadav, Preeti Bose, Sushree Pradhan and Fatima Jaffer had the potential to play long. “They need good coaches at the state level. I had to correct the grip of some of them. Many of them are late starters but the NCA is doing its best to give them such facilities,” added Sharma.