The women’s IPL is finally happening. March 2023 will see the women take centre stage prior to the already established world-class product that is the men’s Indian Premier League. While it will enhance the women’s game with more competitive cricket, it will be in complete contrast to the men’s game, which has had an overload of game time.
England Test captain Ben Stokes deciding to quit ODIs and New Zealand pace bowler Trent Boult not opting for a central contract indicates the possible pathway forward for some well-established men’s players.
IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders decided to fill the vacancy of head coach left vacant by Brendon McCullum’s departure by appointing Chandrakant Pandit. Pandit’s name is synonymous with delivering consistent results in domestic cricket. Someone who has played the game at the highest level, he has seen all the corridors through which players walk.
He comes from an era where technique and temperament were the basis to become a complete player and then learning patience to construct a long innings. For him, cricket did not change irrespective of the state, the player or the team.
While commentating in domestic cricket during the Ranji Trophy knockout matches earlier this season, I saw Madhya Pradesh (the team Pandit coached) had no fear of failure. No, not in the sense that the batters played extravagant shots, but their overall approach — be it in the semis or final.
It was a cool, calm, collected side. MP didn’t have the big names playing for them. They didn’t seem too perturbed competing against the more established names in the rival teams. They just followed their path. They backed their homework, followed the instructions and stuck to their beliefs.
To get the better of Bengal in the semifinal and overpower a fancied Mumbai team in the final, MP needed to remain consistent.
Ahead of the final against Mumbai, I could feel that Aditya Srivastava was more nervous than Prithvi Shaw! But nervousness is not a weakness. Aditya and his team showed that. Asked to bowl, MP didn’t have it easy against the aggressive batting of Mumbai. But before the end of play on Day 1, MP had got themselves back into the contest and eventually won the title.
Chandrakant Pandit’s accession to the role of head coach of an IPL franchise marks a new beginning for Indian coaches. There is always a first time. His methodology with the IPL team might be different but he thrives on a strong base. He always says cricket is still the same. I believe it too. To hit the ball over the bowler’s head, one needs to learn to defend the ball and then drive along the ground. Lofting is an extension of the arms but the base is similar in both the strokes.
BCCI has a very structured coaching programme. With the women’s IPL approaching, there might be a similarity initially in leaning back on home coaching talent playing second fiddle to foreign coaches, but there is no surety. It will become crucial for Indian women coaches to put their hands up and be counted in.
The men’s game has hit overdrive but the women’s game is in the progression stage. It might not take a very long time to pick up speed but yes, any compromise in the basics of the game might pose a challenge. You cannot always hit the ball out of the park to score runs; sometimes grafting for ones and twos also keeps the scoreboard moving.
Game on ladies — both players and coaches.
By Anjum Chopra, former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team. The views expressed here are personal