Diana Edulji: 'Indian women’s team has become talk of the town'

Former Indian women's team captain and CoA administrator Diana Edulji is happy that India by its sheer weight of performances in the ICC Women's World Cup in England, has caught the attention of Indians all over the world.

Former Indian women's team captain and CoA administrator Diana Edulji with Nari Contractor and Madhav Apte.   -  G. Viswanath

Diana Edulji is one among the pioneering woman cricketers in India. She batted and bowled left handed, played international cricket between 1976 and 1993; 20 Test matches (63 wickets, 404 runs) and 34 ODIs, including 22 World Cup matches in 1978, 1982  and 1993  (46 wickets and 211 runs).

She was captain for four Test matches, two each against New Zealand and England and for 8 ODIs. Always striving to bring women’s cricket into focus, she used her clout as a member of the Supreme Court appointed Committee  of Administrators (CoA) to bring benefits to women cricketers.

She is happy that the Indian women’s team, by its sheer weight of performances in the ICC World Cup in England, has caught the attention of Indians all over the world. "The BCCI’s member units  have to become proactive to foster women’s cricket, from grass roots onwards. They should play the final just like they did against New Zealand and Australia,’’ said Diana in an interview to Sportstar.
 

Excerpts:


Q. Would you say that Mithali Raj and her team has taken their game to a new level in this World Cup?
 

A. Absolutely…right from the first match when they beat England, there were positive signs, and playing the final against England at Lord’s is a historic moment for Indian women’s cricket. I think playing in the qualifiers in Sri Lanka and the quadrangular  series in South Africa gave the team a lot of practice and enabled it to prepare for the ICC Women’s World Cup.

Furthermore it helped the team  a lot to ascertain the combination. Smriti Mandhana was a last minute inclusion in the team, because she was injured  prior to that. The batting was a little weak and Smriti’s return only strengthened it.  It made a difference in the first two games (England and West Indies), but after that, she has tapered off…I don’t know the reasons. She has gone into her shell.
 

Q. Mithali has been consistent, others have struck form in different matches; a peculiar feature, but nonetheless has helped the team ?
 

A. Over a number of years, Mithali has been the team’s backbone. With others scoring big runs, a lot of pressure has been taken off her. Poonam (Raut), Smriti, Veda (Krishnamurthy) and Harmanpreet (Kaur)...have all scored runs now. So this has enabled Mithali  to play a lot more freely, otherwise she has had to play cautiously before getting into her strides.
 

Q. Four centuries; Smriti, Poonam, Mithali and Harman in eight matches leading to the final is a confidence booster ?
 

A.  Well, they are the main four batters we have. I was a little surprised that Harman took time, but she has risen to the occasion with responsibility. I think she has played the knock of her life that has been appreciated by one and all.
 

Q. How much has Harmanpreet gained from the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), the Twenty20 tournament in Australia. She played for Sydney Thunder and scored 296 runs at an average of 59.2 ?
 

A. It has certainly. She has learnt how to prepare before a match,  understood the importance of warm ups and all, and the professional aspects in the WBBL. She was ready to play her shots from ball 1 against Australia and her running between the wickets has  improved. That made the big difference and has all of us looking forward to Sunday’s final.
 

Q. The top six has to fire against England ? India has turned out to be good in posting good targets ?
 

A. We cannot look beyond Veda, most of them, in the lower order, are bowling all-rounders. Our strength is in batting and it will always be like that. Most of the matches Indian has won, batting first. We chased against Pakistan though.
 

Q. Jhulan Goswami has been indifferent, but  she holds the key for the spinners to come in and be very effective ?
 

A. Jhulan’s bowling against Australia was like Jhulan of the old. It’s not easy for pacers to be up there all the time in a career spanning ten years and more. Our women players do not miss out on domestic matches. She has shown form and peaked at the right time.
 

Q. What's required to lift Indian women's cricket now ?
 

A. The World Cup has changed the profile of Indian women’s cricket;  people are seeing matches and respecting women’s cricket. The support from media has increased manifold and that’s the reason many people are talking about the game against Australia and  Harman’s knock. India’s women cricketers have become talk of the town.
 

Q. You have been in the vanguard of  establishing a Twenty20 tournament , just like the IPL ?
 

A. I think we should…we can start with four teams and see how it works. But what we require is more domestic cricket for the under-19 girls and India `A’ and exposure for them. We need to find pace bowlers and we must think of having a camp for 15 or 20 promising  pace bowlers. Our domestic cricket is of one month with two nationals. The Indian women’s team must also have a full fledge support staff on a permanent basis.

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