Captaincy jinxed in women's cricket?

Written by: Shantha Rangaswamy
Published: Friday, November 10, 2000, 11:30 [IST]
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Triumphs and defeats are all transient. All our triumphs are but shadows at noon whereby we measure failure. In human life there is a constant change of fortune; and it is reasonable to expect an exemption from the common fate. In this dynamic world, life itself decays and all things are constantly changing.

Fame is a vapour; popularity an accident; the only certainty is oblivion. In the 27 years of the history of Indian women's cricket, the one thing that has been a constant factor has been the "captaincy factor". The authorities since beginning have always found hundreds of reasons to unseat any captain who spoke for the players. And even those who did not speak!

The authorities have all had one similarity over a period of time. A strong bias against players who speak out and against players who dare to fight the establishment. There may have been a few cases of captains fighting for the wrong cause but this bias has been uniformly applied against all who fought for a cause leading one to believe that the Indian captaincy may be jinxed.

The inaugural series in 1975 against Australia saw India fielding three captains. As the organisers of the Tests wanted the local players to lead, the captaincy was thrust on the local players in Pune and Calcutta. In Delhi, as there was none worth her name from Delhi, the captaincy was given to the state from which the chairman of the selection committee hailed from. These three players had the dubious distinction of leading India for the first and the last time in their careers.

As Diana Edulji and myself were termed rebels, officialdom never wanted us to lead but sheer performances brought us to the forefront. We had to prove our worth every time as any failure would have made matters easy for the officials. Having been declared the "eve-of-the-series" against Australia, I was picked as the captain for the Tests against New Zealand, initially for two Tests and later on for the rest of the series.

Even after I had scored lots of runs and led reasonably well, I was named captain for only two Tests against West Indies, who toured India in the winter of 1976, only to be retained later on for the rest of the series. This was also the series in which India won a Test match for the first time.

The team for the twin tour of New Zealand and Australia was picked by Lala Amarnath and company in which I was named captain. The performance of the Indian team in New Zealand was a dream one in which we did not lose a single match in the entire tour. In all fairness to the selectors, from 1976 till 1984, they stood by me whenever I was available.

As I was unavailable for the 1978 World Cup hosted by India, the selectors named Susan Itticheria of Tamil Nadu as the captain of the Indian team. However Susan arrived late for the first match due to a delayed flight and Diana Edulji took over. In 1981, when England came to India, Diana was initially named as captain as I did not attend the coaching camp/ selection trials at Gwalior. But, she had to give way to me half way through.

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