BCCI added women’s red-ball cricket to the domestic calendar, marking a significant re-introduction after six years.

Six years after its absence, red-ball cricket returned to BCCI’s domestic calendar for women in India. The Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Multi-Day Trophy kicks off in Pune, featuring six teams in a revamped format.

Coming after India’s successful run in Test matches against Australia and England in December, this reintroduction is believed to be a crucial step towards a more robust domestic structure, mirroring the men’s cricket system that led to India’s rise in international cricket.

“It’s a step in the right direction. I think this is just the beginning because this year, due to paucity of time, it’s conducted at the inter-zonal level. But I am sure that going forward we may see some inter-state red-ball cricket also,” Saba Karim, the former BCCI women’s cricket head, told ESPNcricinfo.

The importance of red-ball cricket for sharpening skills and developing temperament was echoed by former India captain and coach Purnima Rau. “The kind of experience in planning an inning, batting in the middle for a longer time, the art of bowling, the art of batting, and the art of captaincy is always there in the multi-day game,” she said.

According to ESPNcricinfo, the new tournament features an expanded format with six teams: the North East Zone added to the North Zone, the East Zone, the West Zone, the South Zone, and the Central Zone. A total of five matches will be played. Thursday will see East Zone vs. North East Zone and West Zone vs. Central Zone in action in the two quarter-finals. The North Zone and South Zone were placed in the semi-finals directly following a draw of lots. They will face the winners of the first two games on April 3rd, with the finale set for April 9th.

While the short interval between the Women’s Premier League and this tournament means limited practice time, players acknowledged the need for a “mindset change” to excel in the longer format. “We haven’t gotten much time to practice as such, but what we need is a mindset change. The main thing about playing the long format is being able to switch on and switch off,” remarked Devika Vaidya, the Indian all-rounder.

Significantly, the return of women’s domestic red-ball cricket brings in a lot of change in the dynamics of team selection for the future. Purnima Rau opined that it is for the greater good. “The Test-match wins [in December] have spurred them [the BCCI] to do something. It’s good it’s happening for the younger generation,” she concluded.

Last Updated on March 28, 2024