Arré Checklist: How to Make Women’s Cricket Great… Again

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Arré Checklist: How to Make Women’s Cricket Great… Again

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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t’s finally April, and for all you cricket fans, you know what that means. Time to obsessively follow the biggest event of the season: the Women’s India-England ODI Series!

No? That’s not what’s keeping you glued to your TV? It is cricket but it can’t compete with the IPL, can it? After all, this is India’s version of the Super Bowl, where the actual athletics are secondary to sheer entertainment value. Everyone knows that a good match involves a nail-biting parade of soaring sixes and tumbling wickets, a Ranji-fresh newcomer’s small-town-hero innings, and three separate fixing scandals despite there only being two teams. They may have gotten rid of the pom-pom wielding nautch girls, but a mere women’s game without bells and whistles can’t compete – especially when the ladies involved have to keep all their clothes on.

The Powers That BCCI seem to believe there is potential for an IPL Women’s League. They did mull over conducting a few exhibition matches to see if it would even work as an idea but as with any women’s sport, critics argued that it doesn’t have the same cache as the men’s counterpart. They insist that a woman’s league doesn’t make financial sense, or that women don’t have the physical prowess to match up to the testosterone-fuelled aggression we expect from the modern T20 format.  

So if an IPL Women’s League were to have even the faintest shot at success they’d have to play by IPL rules. What would it take for us to finally see a women’s league?

The Secret to Six-ess

One of T20’s greatest joys is watching a string of hapless bowlers get lofted over the boundary while a smug pair of batsmen look on. Given how it drives both the crowds and announcers wild, the million-dollar question is will women be able to deliver when it comes to big hitting? Sure, they’ve been smashing their own records year after year, ever since women’s T20 was introduced in 2010. Eventually, they’ll achieve the thrilling 300+ scores that have become de rigueur, just like the men did over the years of IPL. But the ladies are still playing catch-up for decades of disenfranchisement, and we want our chakkas now. Why not edge the boundary line in a few metres closer for the women, just to make it more fun? This way, the fielders will be close enough to gossip with each other too, like gal pals do. It’s a win-win!

They may have gotten rid of the pom-pom wielding nautch girls, but a mere women’s game without bells and whistles can’t compete – especially when the ladies involved have to keep all their clothes on.

Mind the (Wage) Gap

Harmanpreet Kaur may be a seasoned all-rounder who holds the record for most individual runs in the Women’s World Cup knockout. She was essential in carrying the Women in Blue to a strong World Cup finish last year. The nation has lauded this brave, fearless daughter of India, and most of us have finally learned her name. But we’ve already shown our profound appreciation by making her our deputy captain and giving her an Arjuna Award. She’s got a veritable ton of prestige, which should be enough to have her express gratitude for getting a chance to play in the IPL. Does she really need to make a ton of money on top of that? What would she even spend it on, besides kitty parties and MAC lipsticks? Clearly, all-rounders are worth their weight in gold only if their name is Hardik Pandya.

The Sum of All Cheers

Cheerleaders were the most tasteless thing about the original IPL after Lalit Modi and the winners’ trophy, but as the Chennai Super Kings will tell you, a little bit of rebranding can work wonders. It’s time to bring back the cheerleaders, with a few modifications. Just like we now refer to air hostesses as “in-flight support staff”, we can easily bring a veneer of legitimacy to the profession of twerking in body glitter and glorified chaddis. By emphasising the leadership aspect and calling them “cheer executives”, the dance floor is bound to be inundated with strong, confident alpha-male cheerleaders. At every match, we’ll be graced with an entire squad of potbellied painted-up uncles, screaming “SACHIN! SACHIN!” for no reason other than sheer force of habit. And instead of being confined to the stands as usual, they’ll be on the pitch for everyone to enjoy.

Admit it: The women’s IPL sounds way more fun than watching a bunch of retirees attempt witty banter in the dugout. That, or we could provide the women players with the dignity they deserve and merit – and actually watch their friggin’ matches.

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