“Women’s cricket will continue to grow because women are coming of age. The game in general has grown a lot over the last 20 or 30 years. The number of women who play has been steady. You have got a lot of girls who can be successful in it. I had always thought about that, but the idea was always that there is an opportunity for women to play.
“Now there is an opportunity for more women who are interested in playing because a lot of them watch the Indian Premier League and the England V Team. It is a good time for them.”
The IPL, which takes place in August, will also be available online for the first time in a country where women have not been afforded the same level of status as men. The new women’s league format is “going to bring a lot of joy to cricket fans across India”, says Bhandari, who believes it is “great” to see a woman at the helm of a women’s cricket franchise. “I think for the Indian public, the IPL is a bigger deal than the WCL, the WCL is a more traditional league … the IPL is going to bring a lot of joy to cricket fans.”
It is not, however, exactly the ideal platform for a woman’s game. Bhandari says that female cricket was “not developed in India”. “Cricket is played more and more in the West Indies, I think [in South Africa], India and so on, so it is also not as much an indigenous sport. The women’s game in India is still a couple of generations behind.”
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Virat Kohli at ICC event in Ahmedabad, 2014. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
The biggest impediment, according to Bhandari, is a lack of opportunities for women in coaching and coaching staff. “A lot of women think professional cricket coaching is important. There are a couple of programs like the West Indies women’s academy and there are things like the women’s team in Africa that have played for a long time in junior age-group cricket. The Indian women are not playing at very high levels and some of the women’s coaches aren’t getting their chance to be very successful.”
But Bhandari is pragmatic and, despite being a proponent of the women’s game, she accepts that there is likely to still be a “paltry” audience for women’s cricket. For those interested in watching the sport, there is a
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