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Women's Cricket

The man who made 'cricket for girls' a thing in India

Due to the efforts of Mahendra Kumar Sharma, a pioneer of women's cricket in India, the game has become popular in the country.

Mahendra Kumar Sharma with his womens cricket team (Source: The Hindu)

Mahendra Kumar Sharma with his women's cricket team (Source: The Hindu)


Soumya Bontra

Published: 3 March 2022 11:15 AM GMT

Back in 1973, when women's cricket was unheard of and when Mahendra Kumar Sharma decided to lay the founding stones of the game in the country.

Since 1971, Mahendra Kumar Sharma was organizing softball and handball games for school and college girls in Lucknow, India. It was in 1973, during a national tournament in Hyderabad when some girls showed interest in playing cricket, after watching some boys play in the nets. Sharma was intrigued by the girl's eagerness and was keen on creating a cricket association for Indian women.

But it was 1973 and girls playing cricket was a very foreign concept for the people in the country. So, Kumar hoped on a rickshaw with a microphone in his hand, riding across the lanes of Lucknow and announcing "Kanyaon ki cricket hogi, zaroor aaiye" (There will be women's cricket, do come).

Mahendra Kumar Sharma (Source: Female Cricket)

Curious to watch girls play in "skirts", a crowd of around 200 people gathered at the ground of Angelo Sanskrit College that weekend.

Among the crowd was Shubhankar Mukherjee, a student and wicketkeeper-batter of the college team back then, who had also heard the announcement and come to watch the girls play. Mukherjee was later put on the scoring duties for the match by Sharma, as the person, he earlier appointed didn't turn up on time.

Talking with the Hindu Mukherjee said, "Those days, for the people in Lucknow, the Indian Standard Time didn't matter much. So, when the scorer was asked to come at 10 o'clock, he came in at 11"

Since that trial match, Mahendra Kumar Sharma kept working hard to promote women's cricket in the country. In 1973 itself, he established the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI).

Indian women's cricket team back then (Source; The Quint)

In the same year, Sharma also got WCAI registered under the Societies Act of Lucknow and conducted the first-ever Senior National Women's Championship in Pune. Only three teams including Bombay, Maharashtra and Pune competed in the tournament.

Shubhangi Sharma, a former cricketer who was also the secretary of WCAI when it merged with BCCI in 2006, in an interview with the Hindu said that Sharma never expected women's cricket in the country as it did.

"He organized cricket events and also made cricketers like Diana Eduljee, Shanta Rangaswamy and Sudha Shah known to the public," said Kulkarni.

1978 Indian team captain Diana Edulji (Source: Female Cricket)

Kulkarni also said that is hardly recognized for his work and pioneering women's cricket in India. Even though he doesn't mind it and is happy with how far women's cricket has come in the country, he deserves more appreciation for his work and sacrifices.

The Indian women's team will be playing their 10th ODI World Cup in New Zealand, which begins on March 4.

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