We need to play more matches: Smitha

Published: Sunday, January 28, 2001, 18:23 [IST]
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Bangalore: After her return from a semi-successful World Cup jaunt, Thatscricket.com caught up with Smitha Harikrishna to check out on the welfare and future of women's cricket in India. Talking at length, Smitha spoke her mind on the shortcomings and the possible remedies that can be undertaken by the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) in order to take the game to a higher plane. Following are the excerpts of the interview.

Now that the World Cup is over and along with it a lot of post-mortem, where does women's cricket go from here? Basically how do we get our team to meet international standards; we are talking about successfully competing against Australia and New Zealand?

First on the agenda will be our domestic circuit. We have to get down to playing a lot of tournaments. Secondly, we have to alternate them with a lot of international matches. So far we are getting, on an average, one series every one-and-a-half years, which is not sufficient. We have to at least get two series a year, which would mean a good deal of exposure and experience for us. But before that we have to improve our domestic set up.

Earlier, we used to get to play a lot of invitation tournaments, which have totally dried up now. We get to play, probably, just Nationals and Inter-zonals. In the Nationals apart from Air India and Railways, which get to play three matches, the other teams just get one or two games and in the Inter-zonals we get five games. So we end up playing less than 10 games a year.

Talking of more domestic cricket, don't you think the standard of the opposition faced, especially, by Railways and Air India, who account for bulk of Indian players, is below par? Don't you think that restructuring of the domestic circuit is also of prime concern along with the need for more number of tournaments?

Definitely, anything for the betterment of the game is welcome. From the players' point of view, yes we have to play better standards. Probably all the players getting to play for their respective zones is one way how standards could be improved. There is no doubting that if our international standard has to improve we need to play higher standard of games.

You have been playing cricket for 10 years now. All along the talk has been that our domestic circuit has to improve but so far nothing qualitative has come about. Do you think there seriously will be a change?

Definitely, I think now that we've seen where we stand in international cricket we have no choice but to improve our standards back home, if we have to come up to the standards of Australia and New Zealand. And yes, the authorities must have realised we lack in match practice. Something has to be done. Only when it is done we will know. It's just about a month since we've returned from the World Cup. Only once they start conducting the tournaments then we will know.

Prior to the World Cup we did an interview with you, wherein it was pointed out that our fielding might let us down and you did stress that we had worked hard with our fielding in the camps, especially the running between, yet we saw that something went wrong in New Zealand. Is it that the pressure got to you all? In other words, is it that you were all not mentally equipped that you all fell apart or is it that the training methods itself were not good enough, that it did not show?

Yes, basically when we compare ourselves to Australia and New Zealand we did not measure up to their standards. The problem here is we did work hard but probably we stick to the same old techniques, whereas we need improvisation. But, we did do a lot of sliding and all that, but sliding is something that has to come naturally. For that we need to play our domestic tournaments on good grounds. It is very difficult for us to go and just fall and slide all of a sudden.

Running between… was a combination of bad judgment and lack of speed. At times it was a concentration lapse on the players' part.

Now, this problem of fitness, who is to shoulder the responsibility? Is it the players individually, or the trainer or is it the system that is slack in not setting a benchmark for the players to fall in line with?

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