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Decision to resume women’s cricket from October spreads cheers

The announcement by the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly of resumption of women’s cricket from October – with a bilateral series against South Africa, followed by the Women’s T20 Challenge – has brought in cheer.

“It is a fantastic news on a Sunday morning. What else can a cricketer ask for?” India’s pace ace, Jhulan Goswami, told Sportstar.

It has been nine months since Goswami last donned the India colours, during the ODI series against the West Indies, last year. In that three-match series, the Indian pace ace scalped four wickets.

But with the focus shifting to T20Is soon after, due to the T20 World Cup in February, Jhulan — who only features in the ODIs now — was hoping to get herself ready for next year’s 50-over Women’s World Cup.

Her plans, however, were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought the world to a standstill. “This is a great news and I would like to thank the BCCI president for taking the initiative to resume women’s cricket. It’s a great thing to have the Women’s T20 Challenge with four teams,” Goswami said.

“Everyone was asking me why the women’s team isn’t playing. None of us had answers to that. But I am really looking forward to the season ahead.” — Poonam Yadav

She has always batted for an IPL-style tournament and now that the decision has been taken to continue the tournament with four teams, Goswami is excited. “Earlier, there were three teams and now, there will be one more team. So this shows that we are in the right direction. As a cricketer, we are glad to be returning to the ground at the earliest,” the seasoned campaigner said.

Even though there hasn’t been a camp yet, all the players have been training in their personal capacities. “We all have been training on our own. So, that’s there, but I am sure there will be a camp prior to the tournament and that would help us get back into shape. Hope things fall in place and we return to action soon,” Goswami stated.

India’s spin ace, Poonam Yadav, too, believes that it will be a big boost to women’s cricket. Stuck at home in Agra during the lockdown, Poonam has recently set up a cemented wicket in her backyard, where she trains on her own and indulges in ‘bowling sessions’.

“It will be initially difficult for sure. With so many protocols in place, it will be challenging to get back into the field. Things will look new. It will not be the same as it was earlier, but then, we have to start somewhere,” Poonam said.

Getting into a bubble too will be a new experience for the spinner and she admits that even though they missed out on some action, there was nothing much to do. “Even though we wanted to train, there was no ground to train at. The facilities were shut, so it was challenging for sure. But I am glad that we are starting again,” Poonam said.

These days, she does sprints and basic training at the nearby ground in Agra. “I train alone. I don’t allow anyone to come near me when I am training because it is important to maintain social distancing. We have to deal with it,” she said.

There was disappointment among the women cricketers as their tour of England was called off. But now that an opportunity has come their way, the cricketers want to make the most of it. “Everyone was asking me why the women’s team isn’t playing. None of us had answers to that. But I am really looking forward to the season ahead,” she said.

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Even Mithali Raj took to social media to congratulate the BCCI for taking the initiative to organise the Women’s T20 Challenge.

But the Board needs to first appoint a national selection committee. The five-member panel, led by Hemlata Kala, had finished its term in February and there hasn’t been any appointments since then. However, the Board officials indicate that the process could start in the next few weeks – before the series against South Africa gets underway. But for now, the cricketers across the country are looking forward to returning to action. It has been a long break.

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