WCAI should make the game more vibrant

Written by: Shantha Rangaswamy
Published: Monday, November 20, 2000, 11:15 [IST]
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There are a lot of things being said and written about sports federations in the country from time immemorial in the print media and of late, in the electronic media. But then the easiest thing to do is to criticise. Criticism, perhaps right from the time the word was coined, was meant as a standard of judging well. Neither blame nor praise is the true object of criticism; the true aim being justly to discriminate and firmly to establish.

To actually ponder over whether all is right with the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI), one has to have an insight into the functioning of various sports federations in the country today. The disadvantage women's cricket is encountering at every stage is the comparison to men's cricket. Any such comparison is fruitless since Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was established many decades ago and is extremely well organised notwithstanding the allegations of match-fixing.

Women's cricket commenced much later in India and the game had a very good following initially. However with men's cricket coming to the drawing rooms of the masses, thanks to the electronic media, all other sports were badly hit in terms of dwindling numbers as people started getting glued to their television sets. With an overdose of cricket being televised, even men's cricket has received a jolt in terms of spectator response leading to staging of more One-day games to draw the numbers.

Around 95 per cent of the sports federations are dependant upon governmental support as sponsorship is virtually gleaned away by the most popular sport in the country viz., men's cricket. This adversely affects the other games making the jobs of the officials of these federations very difficult. Viewed from this backdrop, I for one will be one of the first ones to admit that the WCAI has emerged more with plusses than minuses.

There were times in the past when the players suffered due to the apathy of the officials of WCAI. International tournaments were held too few and far between. Many players who had peaked had the remorse to watch and wait for their next international outing by which time their form would have slipped. But ever since Ms Anuradha Dutta took over the reins of WCAI as its general secretary, things started looking up.

In an age when only such federations that are headed by political heavyweights are able to achieve the tough task of getting a sponsor, WCAI achieved this in 1993 when the Indian team to the world cup in England was sponsored. That was only the beginning. Ms Dutta added a few more feathers to her cap when she found a title sponsor for the first time in the history of the game for the 1997 World Cup held in India.

Under her stewardship, WCAI conducted a lot of international matches and the Indian team has been doing extremely well since 1994/ 95. The victory in the triangular series in New Zealand in 1995 that featured Australia, India and hosts New Zealand was just the beginning as there were more to come. India performed well against England in 1996 when they toured India and did remarkably well in the 1999 tour of England.

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