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The first Indian, but not the last

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It has been widely reported that India’s all-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur has been approached by the reigning champions, Sydney Thunder, for the upcoming Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

Kaur was India’s leading run scorer and wicket-taker in the recently completed World T20, where India missed out on a semi-final berth at the hands of the eventual winners, the West Indies.

Sydney Thunder’s General Manager, Nick Cummins, reported on their website that they have approached Kaur, but no contracts have been signed yet. That didn’t stop Kaur from tweeting how excited she is to be joining the successful side.

 

 

And why not? If all goes to plan and contracts are signed, Kaur will be the first Indian player to play in a domestic T20 competition outside of India. Earlier this month, the BCCI board made a decision allowing female players to potentially be drafted into either the WBBL in Australia or the Kia Super Cricket League (SCL) in England.

Women's_Big_Bash_League_cricket_Australia_BBL_WBBLWhilst the decision was too late for players to be selected in the SCL, which will be held next month, there was still a window of opportunity for the WBBL.

So what will Kaur’s inclusion in the WBBL mean for Indian players? Similar to what we have seen in the men’s game, initially through the IPL and now other domestic competitions, Kaur will gain knowledge, experience and interact with overseas players.

One of the stalwarts of the Indian team, Jhulan Goswami, stated in an article in DNA India “ [the] West Indies girls benefitted immensely [from playing in the WBBL]. It gave them a lot of confidence and to be beating Australia in the WT20 final, you needed to have a lot of mental strength. I think they learnt that from WBBL.”

 

To be able to train every day with the best female cricketers in the world will push Kaur and challenge what she has always known and done. She will also be exposed to different coaches, who may give her a different insight into her game. Then there will be the added assistance from the Strength and Conditioner, Nutritionist and other support staff that each team may have.

Having played last year for the Sydney Sixers, it reminded me of being on an International tour, except that I could go home at night. We trained most days. If we weren’t training, it was either due to travelling or actually playing matches.

The two month long competition would certainly be the longest tour that Kaur will have experienced, and all of that would be done without her usual friends, teammates and family around her. The fact that the competition goes over the Christmas period will mean that she will be a long way from home, but this will all add to the experience.

For Kaur, the exposure the WBBL gained last year with televised matches and a lot of interest may be something that she is already use to, having represented India in numerous World Cups at home.

I believe that this is the first step in an exciting period of women’s cricket in India.

The new President of BCCI, Anurag Thakur, has come out publicly stating that all the Indian teams should be ranked number 1 by 2020. The Indian women’s side certainly have the ability, as shown when they beat Australia at home in a T20 series earlier this year. Unfortunately they were unable to convert that success a month later in the WT20.

India’s performances can be seen as a rollercoaster. One day they are beating the best and next day they seem to succumb to the pressure or expectation and underperform massively.

There can be no debate that the current team has the ability to be the best, but there is something that acts as a barrier when they compete in global events.

Maybe Kaur can unlock that secret whilst playing in the WBBL; and given that she is one of the key players within the Indian side, she has the potential to pass on what she learns to the rest of the team.

One thing is for sure: if the BCCI continues down this path of increased opportunities to play & matches and providing the resources around the team, that target of number 1 by 2020 is certainly attainable. 

 

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An all-rounder who retired from International Cricket in 2013, Lisa made her debut for Australia in...

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