Former skipper of the Indian women's cricket team, Diana Edulji, had some choice words to say about the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its attitude towards women's cricket at an event organised by Indian Express on Tuesday. She called the BCCI a "male chauvinist organisation". She also claimed that the women's cricket team's spectacular performance at the World Cup final in England last month had been difficult to stomach for many members in the sexist organisation reported Indian Express. Edulji, the first ever women's ODI team captain, was appointed to a four-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) for the BCCI by the Supreme Court (SC) in January this year.
"I've always been a BCCI basher, right from the day women's cricket came into the BCCI fold in 2006... They never wanted women to dictate terms or get into this thing," she said. In July, even though the Indian team lost the World Cup final to England by nine runs, they came back home to unprecedented publicity and love from fans who were finally sitting up and taking note of their stellar performance.
She also criticised former BCCI president N Srinivasan at the event. She claimed that he "hates women's cricket," and that when she went to congratulate him on his appointment in 2011 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, he told her that if he could have it his way, he would "not let women's cricket happen".
We are not a sports-loving nation, and it is difficult to get benefits for sportspersons unless one is prepared to slog for it.
Edulji's efforts towards improving the condition of cricket, particularly women's cricket, in the country has been well-documented. "See, somebody had to stand up for women cricketers. We are not a sports-loving nation, and it is difficult to get benefits for sportspersons unless one is prepared to slog for it. I was not only doing it for cricketers, but also in the Railways, for all sportspersons," Hindustan Times quoted her as saying after her appointment to the CoA in January. She was also instrumental in getting women's cricket accepted by the BCCI, under Sharad Pawar's presidency.
This is also not the first time Edulji has been critical of BCCI and N Srinivasan. In April, the CoA wrote a strict letter to the BCCI with instructions for defiant office-bearers and, most importantly, reiterating that the BCCI representative to the International Cricket Council should qualify as per the recommendations of the Lodha Panel mandated by the SC in 2016. The letter by the CoA ruled out N Srinivasan's chances to be appointed as the representative since he did not fulfill the eligibility criteria according to the recommendations, even though he was emerging as one of the favourites for the job, Hindustan Times had reported.
Earlier this month, Edulji and fello CoA member Vinod Rai had submitted a scathing report to the SC seeking the removal of BCCI acting president CK Khanna, secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Choudhry, again over non-compliance of the Lodha Reforms, reported Firstpost. Edulji and Rai had asked for the governance, management and administration of the BCCI to be handed over to them along with a professional group led by BCCI CEO Rahul Johri until elections were held.
Raut recalled how she was often reprimanded by her mother and her friends who were worried she would turn dark from all the sun exposure on the field while playing.
World Cup top performers Harmanpreet Kaur and Punam Raut too were present at the event with Edulji. In India's first match itself in the World Cup, Raut, opener for the team, notched up a match-winning score of 86 runs. She and Kaur together put 95 runs on the scoreboard in the finals.
Both Kaur and Raut spoke about India's sudden interest in women's cricket and how it was a humbling experience to come back to the country to overwhelming support from fans. They also spoke about their days of struggle and the barbs they had to endure to play, what is widely considered, a men's sport.
Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who sored an awe-inspiring 359 runs in 8 innings in the tournament, with a match-winning 171 against Australia in the semi-final, spoke about how difficult it was to find women to play with, during her early years in her hometown Moga in Punjab.
Edulji, Kaur and Raut also discussed the possibility of IPL for women, a hot topic in women's cricketing circles. While Edulji had her doubts, Kaur and Raut were, unsurprisingly, excited about the prospects. "I hope we don't end up saying many years later that 'we also used to hit sixes during our time'. So, I feel if IPL starts now, then it's great," Kaur said.