Women’s cricket has arrived with a bang!

All of last month, having always been an early riser, I spent the mornings watching the ICC Women’s World Cup in cricket. It was an absolute revelation. The women displayed wonderful skills. Gone are the days when their game looked weak and anaemic. These women, many barely out of their teens, played like any men’s team would. They batted with excellent technique. They bowled exactly the way they should. If they played below par, it was in fielding. But they understood the need of the moment and made required changes. Believe me, it was a real pleasure. In the end as was expected the Australians beat England in the final, which India should have played.The Indian women lost by a sheer quirk of fate. South Africa won off the last ball because an extra ball had to be bowled after a wide, and entered the semifinal in a thriller match.

There were some fabulous off-field moments too. We saw the Indians playing with the Pakistani captain’s two-month-old baby. India had just won that match. No one who saw that would have failed to get emotional. It was so great to see the joy on their faces. Hopefully, India will win the cup next time. Its team is good enough to beat any opponent.

Now there’s going to be a women’s IPL T20 tournament as well. In March this year the BCCI announced that a franchise-based annual T20 tournament for women will start next year with six teams. I can’t wait for it.

Cricket is totally a game of chance. From the moment the ball leaves the bowler’s hand till it becomes a ‘dead ball’ there can be an infinite number of possibilities.

My motto is let there be more and more cricket. The more cricket there is, the less dreary life becomes. It may have begun in England which makes a virtue of dreariness but the rest of the cricket playing countries have energised it to a degree that matches international football. Millions watch and forget their travails for a little while.

Many people can’t understand why. The reason is that cricket is totally a game of chance. From the moment the ball leaves the bowler’s hand till it becomes a ‘dead ball’ you don’t know what’s going to happen. There are literally an infinite number of ­possibilities. Just think about it and you will understand what I am saying.

Look at what can happen. 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 runs. Out. Not out. Bowled. Caught. Run out. Stumped. Lbw. Short run. Collision. Catch dropped. Six prevented at the boundary. No other game allows so many possible outcomes from a single ball. And if it’s a Test match there are a maximum of 2,700 balls to be bowled in case the match doesn’t finish before that. In a 50-over match the maximum is 600 balls. And in a 20-over game, the maximum is 240. If in each ball there are at least a dozen possibilities, you see how full of chance the game is. Anything can happen, including, very tragically, once even the death of a batsman. Which other game has that possibility?

What puzzles me is why just about 15 countries play cricket properly. Even there, many teams are made up of players from South Asia. I remember back in 1995 the ­European Commission sent out a team to India to find out why so few Indians were aware of the ­European Union and why everyone here thought only of individual countries there. They invited some journalists for lunch and asked their questions. My answer was simple: start playing cricket. Foolishly they ignored my advice and guess what happened? The only country in the EU that plays cricket left it.

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