The impact of social media cannot be understated in the recent rise in the profile of women cricketers.
Derby: Harmanpreet Kaur symbolises the new breed of women cricketers. She is a superstar on the field, and is marketable off it. She is media savvy and talks the ‘hashtag’ language of the social media generation.
The attention around her during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 in England has been intense because very soon she will be the first Indian to play in the Women’s Super League when she turns up for Surrey Stars in August this year. Having been the first Indian to be picked up for the Women’s Big Bash League last year, this is familiar territory for her. What is interesting is how well she is prepared to handle the hype.
“We are bindaas (cool). We knew that this will happen,” said Kaur. “Our seniors always told us that when you do well, the media and people will come to you on their own. So we are prepared; it is not that we have not seen or heard this attention.”
The impact of social media cannot be understated in the recent rise in the profile of women cricketers. Mithali Raj, for example, had only 3,000 followers on Twitter before the start of the tournament, but now the number has gone past 50,000.
Similarly, Smriti Mandhana, one of the centurions in the competition, has now a follower base of around 30,000. Kaur is third in the list among Indians with around 20,000 followers. A total of 10 games are being telecast live on television, while the remaining 21 matches are being streamed online. Also, the ICC digital media has done a tremendous job with their match highlights, which have gained a lot of traction across platforms.
“Whenever you get time you are looking at your phone and social media; you can see the clips of the players,” agreed Kaur. “Family and old friends who don’t follow cricket that much, they are giving their views on cricket. Some of my school friends who have never watched cricket are sending us their wishes. So we get to know so many people are following it back home in India.” It is a world different from the one Kaur grew up in in Moga, learning the game under her father and coach. “When we used to play before, I had to call my sir and tell him, ‘Sir, I did this today’,” she remembered.