Lack of experience not a concern for Indian women ahead of England Test

India has featured in 36 Tests, the last of which came in 2014. Seven years later, India will play another Test, against England, in Bristol from June 16. India’s women cricketers are indeed delighted.

Indian women’s cricket captain Mithali Raj with Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami and Smriti Mandhana at the unveiling of the team’s new Test kit ahead of the India and England Test.   -  PTI

On a bright November morning at the quiet Goan town of Porvorim, Jhulan Goswami was talking about her long career in cricket. “In 13 years, I — and India — have played just 10 Tests, though I have played 143 ODIs,” she told Sportstar during that lengthy interview.

That was in 2015. How many Tests do you think India has played since?

None.

A Test match is indeed a rare occurrence for women cricketers. More so if they aren’t English or Australian.

England has played 95 Tests so far and Australia 74, after playing their first in 1934. New Zealand is the only other country that has played more than 40, but its last Test was in 2004. India has featured in 36 Tests, the last of which came in 2014.

Seven years later, India will at last play another Test, against England, in Bristol from June 16. India’s women cricketers are indeed delighted.

READ: What Harmanpreet Kaur learnt from Ajinkya Rahane

“All the players are excited and the BCCI’s decision to have this Test is a great one,” Jhulan Goswami, who has appeared in every Test that Indian women have played since her debut against England in Lucknow in 2002, told Sportstar over phone from her Kolkata home. “It is indeed great that we are going to play another Test.”

It will be the 11th Test for Jhulan, who has played in 186 ODI and 68 T20Is in her 19-year-old international career. From her 10 Tests, the seamer has taken 40 wickets.

She should be hoping to add to that tally in Bristol. The last time the Indian women were in England for a Test, in 2014, she had proved a handful for the home batters. She had taken four wickets in the second innings to help India score a stunning six-wicket victory in Wormsely.

The Indians were playing their first Test in eight years and had fielded as many debutants. Only Jhulan, captain Mithali Raj and wicket-keeper Karu Jain had played Test cricket before.

In that previous Test series played in 2006, too, Jhulan had a significant role to play. She had match figures of 10 for 78 in the second Test in Taunton, which India won by five wickets and thus the series 1-0.

READ: England vs India, women's Test: Lack of game time a concern, says Sudha Shah

Mithali had led from the front too, with scores of 65 and 22 not out. She will also be leading the team in the Bristol Test.

India may be going into that Test match without having played one in the last seven years, but Biju George, a former fielding coach of the Indian women’s team, feels the lack of experience may not be that big an issue. “This bunch of Indian players has enough talent and they could adapt to challenging conditions,” he says. “The bowlers may find that bowling more than 10 overs a day a new experience and of course, the batters cannot afford to go after the bowling without settling down.”

"It is unfortunate that India is playing a Test only after such a long gap. The women’s ODIs and T20s are popular on television now, and I hope the Test in England too will have live coverage. Ideally, there should be a Test in every bilateral series," says former India captain Shubhangi Kulkarni.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Former India captain Shubhangi Kulkarni, however, thinks the lack of multi-day matches in domestic cricket is a concern. “Earlier, the final of the senior Nationals was played over three days,” she recalls. “Very few of the current cricketers may have had the experience of playing multi-day cricket.”

Shubhangi, who has played 19 Tests (that is more than half India has), is disappointed that today’s cricketers are playing far fewer Tests. “It is unfortunate that India is playing a Test only after such a long gap,” she says. “The women’s ODIs and T20s are popular on television now, and I hope the Test in England too will have live coverage. Ideally, there should be a Test in every bilateral series.”

That may not happen anytime soon, but the BCCI’s recent announcement that India will be playing a day/night Test later this year in Australia is cause for celebration for women cricketers.