It is often said that women's cricket "lacks intent". First of all, that is factually incorrect, but if someone was asking for my opinion, I'd find it completely understandable even if it were true. The way women's cricket is treated, especially in India, is appalling, to say the least. Imagine, if you were discriminated against for something as fundamental to your identity as your gender, and then you were disrespected, not given attention, and not given your due - would you be able to find motivation? Probably not.
These women, though, they still go and try their best and we should all be thankful to them for that. Also, we should feel ashamed. For perspective, here are a few instances to show how unfairly women cricketers are treated in this country.
1. The fact that the men's cricket team did not have much to eat in the 1983 World Cup because England wasn't prepared for vegetarians still makes it to the news, and fairly so. But can you imagine, the Women's cricket team did not get breakfast during World Cup in 2017? The hotel they were staying at, told them it can't serve breakfast so they ate samosas before the semifinal against Australia. The women won that semifinal for the country.
Things were so bad that Harmanpreet Kaur, who hit a historic 171* in that match had to deliberately hit boundaries to avoid singles because the lack of food was causing her cramps.
2. The jerseys of the women's team were made out of spare clothes from men's cricket until very recently. This was shared by former BCCI head Vinod Rai, who says:
I was aghast to know that men’s uniforms were being cut up and re-stitched for women’s players. I had to ring up Nike and tell them that this was not on and that their design would be different.
3. Their wages are not even comparable to male cricketers. The issue first became a nation-wide news in 2018 when people, for the first time, truly noticed the pay gap between the two teams.
4. And this is when things have supposedly 'gotten better'. In 2017, after the heartbreaking World Cup final defeat, Mithali Raj said that she traveled unreserved in trains as a national player because women's cricket was not governed by the Board at that time.
There were a lot of struggles in my journey. Now we are under the BCCI, but at that time, the normal basic facility which a sports person gets to play even (we did not even get that). As an India cricketer, I have travelled unreserved from Hyderabad to Delhi by train, as an India player.
5. The BCCI did not pay the women's cricket team, the runners-up of the 2020 World Cup, its prize money for more than 14 months. Even by their own admission, they received the amount from the ICC in 8 months (and this was supposed to be its defense).
BCCI said that it did not give the prize money to players because of the then ongoing fight with ICC regarding taxation which would have meant that the cricketers would have had a good amount cut from what they were getting. However, like many rightly argued, BCCI could have taken the initiative to pay the players that much amount from its side when the issue was taken care of. You can't keep their money from them. This wasn't on the players.
Women are made to feel grateful for progress but there is still so much to be done to reach equity (& that isn’t just equal pay). Players associations are a vital part of reaching this. 🇮🇳 women will dominate the 🌍 stage when as much thought goes into the their game as the men https://t.co/W4ouvLe21x— Isa Guha (@isaguha) May 23, 2021
There is still so much to be desired.