Cricket’s been kind to the menfolk. Let’s not even get there.
With due regard to Cricket’s mighty hitters, timber crushers and those who do both just too well, why’s women’s cricket languishing where it is today?
In a game that doesn’t discriminate between the gender of its audience, with a record-breaker already celebrated as a God, it must be asked if not being a male cricketer makes women angry goddesses?
Does it worry you as fans?
This emptiness of an emotion attributed to women’s cricket is so telling that it holds enough power to put some life in the dead.
Why’s it so?
But if playing blame games were to swipe a lack of frenzy concerning Women’s Cricket with dollops of respect, then things would’ve been okay.
So agrees someone who’s held a massive record in Women’s T20 Cricket; an achievement available online for doubters, cynics who can refer to it even 8 years after its construction as a reminder that what women can do in Cricket.
It’s July 8, 2009.
Singapore Women’ team is staring at a cakewalk of an ask in a vital ACC Women’s T20 Championship game.
ACC, of course, is the prestigious Women’s Asia Cup marquee.
To cut Nepal into pieces, all they need are 2 runs from 6 balls.
It’s the final over.
The only team that thinks it cannot get there exists either on paper or in some doped out artist’s imagination.
So as Singapore’s bat women decide to make light work of Nepal’s ask, a young girl decides to ruin their party.
She imagined destruction
And that’s exactly what happened to Singapore after a run was leaked on the very first ball.
Now just 1 is needed.
What followed was this
Wicket, Wicket, Wicket- a hat trick on debut- followed by, a wide that tied the game and, wicket and wicket.
It was only after a bowl-out decider that Nepal’s Rubina Chhetry breathed easy. But upon realising she’d bagged 5 scalps in the final over, something unprecedented and hitherto never repeated in a Women’s T20, did reality strike that she’d turned into some kind of a hero.
Not too bad for someone playing her maiden game?
This feat was 8 years back. Where’s Rubina now?
Often, many who burst out impressively on cricket’s international stage end up becoming one hit wonders.
But not 23-year-old Rubina, who recently signed up with the Melbourne Renegades as an associate rookie.
Going strength to strength, Rubina Chhetry is the captain of Nepal Women’s T20 and 40-over side.
Simple. Bright. Sincere.
In an age where nearly everything is being sold to you on these lines- whether a would-be bride’s matrimony ad or a washing power, it is heartening to note that a young cricketer, part of a generation mostly berated for being reckless personifies such virtues.
But, for a cricketing unit, the captain holds unique importance. Rubina knew what she was up against. A lack of awareness about women’s cricket wasn’t the only concern, rather, a strange disinterest in not keeping up with the Women’s Cricket didn’t make the journey easy.
But she’s accepted this with glee.
Just that in her case, the quintessential crown of thorns came with a bit of an additional responsibility, with locals perceptibly not too aware of where Nepalese Women’s Cricket going.
So do you know the core strength of Nepal Women’s Cricket team?
Are they batting-heavy or bowling-reliant?
Apart from knowing where Rubina Chhetry hails from, do you know in which recent tournament did she captain Nepal?
Do you know which team did Nepal lose to in their bid to qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017?
Rubina has chosen to focus on a greater concern than this lack of awareness
For Nepal Women’s team to attain a long-cherished dream of making it to an ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, the road ahead presents a realistic concern.
They failed to defeat Hong Kong in the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup qualifiers recently- as their batting let them down.
“We can fight it out, we need to group together and play a lot more consistent cricket, provided opportunity comes to us”, suggests Rubina.
Nepal’s bowling, shepherded by their captain boasts of an impressive medium pace attack that has, until recently, scuttled the likes of China while bowing down to Bangladesh and Thailand. But not without a fight.
But not without a fight.
In arguably the ICC’s equivalent for Asia; the ACC,(Asian Cricket Council) Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup, Rubina and her talented scouts locked horns against formidable opponents. Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
They were up against a pool of reputed names- Mithali Raj, Sana Mir, Jhulan Goswami, Sornnarin Tippoch. But even in their loss, there was something to savour; a lesson to be learnt.
While batting struggles persisted, their bowling seemed far from ordinary. Somehow, the likes of bat woman Jyoti Pandey and bowler Sita Rana Magar offered hope.
Rubina, the captain lead by example in a time of duress, claiming 5 wickets in the recently concluded competition at Bangkok, wherein she also scored an 11, the most from her team in a crushing loss to Pakistan, their final game of the tournament.
The team could manage just 47, although double the score of their season-defining low, which came a game earlier wherein Nepal were bowled out for 23.
Nepal’s predicament isn’t lack of talent actually
Rather, the immensity of a lack of opportunities that Women’s Cricket is being offered. Regional tournaments, one can research, happen. But they aren’t sufficiently documented, promoted or examined to find efficacy.
Why should that even happen?
Could it be because of an utter lack of will of Nepali administrators?
No really, one thinks as even if contesting on a non-level-playing field with their male counterparts, Nepal Women’s captain has made it to one of Australia’s most famous T20 franchises ever: Melbourne Renegades.
So could the lack of development be pointing to whims or fancies of those who believe in offering lip-service to the idea of offering equal opportunities to women in a sport that’s incessantly male-dominated?
Even this thought is bizarre as the common template of Cricket, now seems to be changing, with Women’s Cricket slowly but surely emerging out of the shadows of male-domination.
Cricket today is a potent marketable idea.
At its core, it’s a sport of thrill and magnanimous achievement. But on the outside, it can be stretched to become an entity that flourishes brands, while still reserving the right to enthral fans.
So where’s Nepal lagging in this regard?
It’s Women’s Cricket has a soul to it
It’s feathered by talents, that rally around a seemingly unflappable Rubina Chhetry. She seems like a girl of few words.
But is Nepal Women’s Cricket being served to a global audience with local support from those who administer it and are tasked with encouraging it?
That said, the country is home to the exceptional talent of Paras Khadka, one of Rubina’s heroes.
But when will someone hear the same about Rubina, who holds the enviable record of being the only women cricketer to have taken a hat-trick in an ICC match?
For a youngster who humbly submits she’ll do anything in her bid to make the country realise its dream of world cup participation, inspiration is sought from Steven Smith, another of Rubina’s heroes.
And India’s Harmanpreet Kaur who Rubina has played against. But looks up to.
In their vital 4-wicket win over China, in 2016s ICC Women’s Qualifying Series, Nepal’s leading torchbearer of Women’s Cricket struck winning runs in her 13 off 9 balls, including 3 boundaries.
Of course, what matters most is that in bowling, her key strength, she rattled China’s top order thanks to a 2-for from 4 overs. This was a T20 game and Rubina’s economy read 2.5.
Is someone listening?