‘Don’t have to tinker with the fabric of the game to attract an audience’

COUNTERVIEW

Pandey made her point in a series of tweets.

Pandey made her point in a series of tweets. © Getty

Shikha Pandey, India’s pace-bowling all-rounder, has termed the innovative suggestions mooted for promoting the women’s game in an ICC webinar as “superfluous”. In a detailed Twitter thread, Pandey stressed on the importance of finding alternatives to market the women’s game better without tinkering with the conditions and altering the ‘very fabric of the game’ to attract an audience.

In an ICC webinar held earlier this month, New Zealand captain Sophie Devine and India batter Jemi Rodrigues had both given a nod to trying out different innovations – including shorter pitch, smaller ball and more – to help attract newer audience to the women’s sport. However, Pandey argues that it is the headstart men’s cricket had over women’s which made it more popular of the two, and that the women’s sport, a rapidly evolving product as it is, will catch up.

“An Olympic 100m female sprinter doesn’t run 80m to (win a gold) and clock the same timing as her male counterpart,” tweets Pandey, providing a credible analogy for her argument. “So the whole ‘decreasing the length of the pitch’ for whatever reasons seems dubious.”

“Also, it almost definitely takes double-headers out of the equation,” says Pandey. Should such a suggestion be considered, the conditions specifically custom-made for the women’s game would need to be changed in an unreasonably short period for a men’s game on the same day at the same venue.

Pandey also weighed in on the suggestion to use smaller balls for women’s cricket, amply making a point on behalf of the bowlers’ community.

“Reducing the size of the ball is fine, but as Ian Smith suggested, it only works if the weight remains the same,” says Pandey, before justifying, “This will allow for bowlers to grip the ball better – more revs for the spinners – and hits will also travel further (not be the case if it is light).”

Furthermore, Pandey reckons that the availability of technology at all levels of women’s cricket is paramount – a virtue that entails “heavy investment at the grassroot levels” of women’s cricket. “Why not have DRS, Snicko, Hotspot, all of the technical acumen and live broadcast for every game that we play anywhere in the world?”

Finally, Pandey has spoken against bringing in the boundaries, dismissing any potential doubts over power-hitting in the women’s game, claiming that women have “surprised” the audience with that skill.

“Please don’t bring the boundaries in! We have surprised you with our power-hitting in recent times, so remember, this is only the beginning; we will get better,” pleads a confident Pandey. “Please have patience. We are skilled players, who are evolving.”

“Please, don’t compare women’s sport, women’s cricket, in this case, with men’s sport. We need to see it as a different sport altogether. A sport that 86,174 spectators turned up to watch on March 8, 2020 and several million watched live on their television sets.”

Several cricketers supported Pandey’s reasoning and lauded her for her honesty in trying to preserve the fabric and the rules of cricket, rather than sacrificing them for better viewership and financial profitability.

© Fame Dubai

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