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  Sports   Cricket  26 Jul 2017  Brought tears when gods didn’t smile on them

Brought tears when gods didn’t smile on them

THE ASIAN AGE. | R. MOHAN
Published : Jul 26, 2017, 1:49 am IST
Updated : Jul 26, 2017, 1:49 am IST

The quirky wisdom in it was made apparent by the manner in which our Women in Blue threw away a great opportunity.

The Indian players after the World Cup final. (Photo: AP)
 The Indian players after the World Cup final. (Photo: AP)

If there is a cricketing god, their time will come, soon. They were so impressive in their run-up to Lord’s and in the final too until they imploded. They were perhaps too eager to finish it off when the target seemed so near. It needs a certain type of cricketing temperament to be able to bat in the knowledge that while the task seems easy, it has still to be done, step by step. It’s not over until it’s over”, is a famously quixotic quote of Yogi Berra. The quirky wisdom in it was made apparent by the manner in which our Women in Blue threw away a great opportunity.

The late order lost their nerve and came a cropper. This is a pity since the team had shown all along that their understanding of the game had been honed by the World Cup bonding experience into something greater than just the intuitive. While Harman might have tried to emulate her hero Virender Sehwag with a big hit, which in any case is her forte, the dismissal of Punam Raut, leg before, was the turning point. Any hopes lingering were owed to the nearness of the moderate target rather than the state of the contest which was in England’s pouch.

Signifying how far women’s cricket has come is Harmanpreet Kaur’s free spirit. 

She is certainly a player of the age in the willow game, which in the past may have been known more for feminine elegance. Even today, most women cricketers tend to strike the ball in the classical Vee. The ‘Hammer’ Harman is different. She is the Sehwag of the women’s game even though she tends to go block... block... strike far more than her hero’s ‘See ball, hit every ball’ philosophy. Her dismissal at a stage when India were in the driver’s seat was when the game started swinging England’s way.

It’s a pity Mithali Raj, for so long the pioneering skipper who kept the team together while being its most productive wielder of the willow, may not get another shot at the World Cup title again. She will go down in history as a cricket tragic who twice made it to the final, only to lose. It’s a feeling many a sportsman will share with her. Like Ivan Lendl at Wimbledon, her story will remain an impossible dream. Her contribution to the women’s game in India is, however, stupendous. This is a movement that has selfless roots in sheer sporting endeavour without thought of reward.

It would be nice of the current generation and those to come, who will go on to receive all the recognition and rewards, spare a thought to those who played long before them without so much as getting a red cent in the form of a contracted annual salary. The allowances they were getting when travelling abroad for the women’s cricket association were laughable. Only after coming into the BCCI fold have these cheerful ladies who try hard to excel at cricket got what is close to their due. None will begrudge them their rewards now after they captured a billion hearts last Sunday day in the World Cup final at Lord’s. There was a tear in many an eye that night when they fell nine runs short.

It will be interesting to see where the women’s game goes from here. It is a bit optimistic on Mithali’s part to expect an IPL will be rolled out soon for the fairer sex. Given there is a league even for table tennis, which however seemed to attract no crowd at the venue, there is no easy conclusion to be drawn on a league taking birth. BCCI can do wonders with its money. But whether it would be inclined to spend a fair bit on a WIPL is open to question. National contests to be televised at least in the final stages might be a fair start. The limited-overs final could be the first to come through with some success.

Tags: harmanpreet kaur, world cup final