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Women's Cricket

No country for women: T20 Challenge schedule shows how India values women cricketers

Teams in the men's IPL have a minimum of one day's gap between their matches, but the women's teams are expected to play 2 matches within 16 hours.

Womens T20 Challenge set to begin from May 23 (Source: BCCI)

Women's T20 Challenge set to begin from May 23 (Source: BCCI)


Md Imtiaz

Updated: 25 May 2022 11:07 AM GMT

The women's IPL is finally set to see the light of day next year, but on the last year of the 'Women's T20 Challenge' - the stepsister of the men's IPL - the scheduling of the matches has sent alarm bells ringing. Perhaps the schedule is even symptomatic of how men and women are still expected to meet different standards in the field of play and beyond.

Similar to its previous editions, BCCI has crammed the four matches between the three arbitrarily-selected teams in the middle of the men's IPL. However, what is even more troubling is that one of the teams is scheduled to play an afternoon match immediately after playing an evening match the day before.
Harmanpreet Kaur's Supernovas will face Trailblazers on the evening of May 23, and then again take the field against Velocity on May 24 at 3.30 PM — that too in the searing Pune heat. This would mean Harmanpreet's team will get less than 16 hours (considering their first match will end at 11.30 PM on May 23) to recover and perform well enough to make it to the final.
Over the last two months, almost 70 matches have been played already in the men's IPL between the ten teams, with there being a minimum gap between consecutive fixtures of one day. What could have gone so wrong in scheduling four matches so that the same courtesy could not be extended to the women cricketers?
While there have been some voices of concern raised over the matter, they have been too few.

Difficult for the girls to recover in 12 hours: Mithali Raj

This is hardly the first time the BCCI has made a nightmare of a women's cricket tournament schedule.
In the last edition of the tournament too, one of the teams - led by Mithali Raj - had been forced to play on consecutive days. In their second match, the fatigued team were bowled out for 47 and lost by nine wickets.
Raj had made her displeasure clear at the post-match conference. "As far as playing in the afternoon is concerned, we haven't even got 12 hours to recover from yesterday's game. So clearly yes, it has been difficult for the girls to prepare themselves and come back and play the afternoon game after playing last night," she had said.
Even though Mithali Raj herself is absent from this year's edition of the T20 Challenge, one could have hoped her words could have had a bearing on the scheduling this year. But this year too, Harmanpreet Kaur's side will have to be the one unfortunate team to get no rest day between their fixtures.
Cramming the women's matches in the middle of the IPL wave is not a new strategy, but getting some of the best cricketers in the world to then not allow them the time to perform at their best level seems like a wasted opportunity.
Take the case of Sophie Ecclestone, the top-ranked T20I bowler in the world, who is expected to spearhead the bowling attack for Harmanpreet's Supernovas on two consecutive days. Will she be able to steam in with the same intensity on the second day? Surely, some more thought into scheduling could have avoided such a question.
With the women's IPL set to be a six-team affair from next year, one hopes such questions will be binned forever after next week.
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