In her long career, Shantha Rangaswamy has won quite a few crucial games for India. But, the former India captain believes that Indian women’s cricket won its biggest award on Monday after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) nominated her for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This is for the first time in Indian cricket that a women’s cricketer will receive the prestigious award.
After a meeting, the three-member jury for the award, comprising N. Ram, Ramachandra Guha and Diana Edulji, felt that it was necessary to bring Indian women cricketers on a par with their male counterparts. “This is definitely a big day for women’s cricket. After years of struggle and hard work, things have finally started moving for the better,” an elated Rangaswamy told Sportstar from Bengaluru on Monday evening.
Having led India in 12 Tests and 16 ODIs, Rangaswamy believes that the award will mark a new beginning for women’s cricket. “Despite putting in the hard work, Indian women cricketers were never on a par with their male counterparts. But now, with the Board deciding to honour a women’s captain, the girls, too, can dream big,” she said.
Rangaswamy, who was also the chairman of the women’s selection committee till September last year, feels that the Committee of Administrators (CoA) has helped Indian eves in a big way. “Such an effort should have been taken by the BCCI office-bearers long back, but that never happened. Now, with the CoA trying to bring about a change in Indian cricket, even we are reaping the benefits,” she pointed out.
The 63-year-old, however, admits that the winds of change began sometime last year when the then BCCI chief Anurag Thakur introduced a central contract system for the Indian eves. “Earlier, none of the women cricketers could even think of getting central contracts, but things have slowly started changing,” she said, adding: “Now, we should not be looking back. An opportunity has come our way, and we must use it.”
There is also talk that the women cricketers may get a pay hike soon. The former India skipper, too, is excited about that. “Even I’ve heard something like that. It would definitely be a big boost for women’s cricket. It actually feels good to be recognised,” she said.