‘Women’s cricket needs an IPL, we are ready for it’

After winning the under-23 T20 Nationals, Kerala women ready to taste cricket’s best

Kerala girls, who won the under-23 National T20 cricket title in Mumbai on Wednesday, celebrate the state's first-ever national cricket victory in Kochi on Thursday.   -  Stan Rayan

She was a good sprinter, high jumper and javelin thrower at school but when S. Sajana got into the district cricket team in the under-19 age-group, she was clear where her future lay. And a memorable State debut, where she hit a last-ball four to help Kerala past Hyderabad in an inter-State event in Chennai a few years ago, virtually ensured her a permanent place in the State team.

Now, after leading Kerala to its first-ever National cricket title, the under-23 T20 women’s National trophy in Mumbai on Wednesday, the 22-year-old is keen to taste the best that cricket has to offer.

“I think women’s cricket should have an IPL, we are ready for it,” said the allrounder from hilly Wayanad at the Nehru Stadium here on Thursday evening. "

If the women’s IPL comes, it will surely have two to three players from Kerala. We have been playing well throughout the year. And we have Asha, now playing for the South Zone, who has been picked for the India ‘A’ team. So, our role model is within our team itself.”

The Kerala Cricket Association, which runs three academies in the state for women’s cricket and which spends nearly Rs 1 crore annually for the women’s game, honoured its first national champions here on Thursday and its Secretary Jayesh George presented the girls with a cheque for Rs 10 lakh.

CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

Jayesh also announced that the KCA would start a Centre of Excellence in Kochi, which will include women’s cricket, to help the team achieve greater goals and also to groom new talent. Plans are also on to start a women’s league in the State.

The KCA also rewarded the team’s coach, Suman Sharma, with a five-year contract extension. Suman, a former assistant national coach, said that Kerala runs the country’s best programme for women’s cricket.

“It is the only State that promotes women’s cricket in such a big way, it looks after everything, including the players’ education,” she said.

“Now, in the next step, we need to have more exposure matches to make them mentally stronger to handle bigger battles. And these girls are introverts, we need to get them out, meet people and make them more confident.”

She also said that the team needs a video analyst, a crucial member these days, and better fitness sessions.

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