England, Australia, India will have a very big say in Women’s Test: Snehal Pradhan [Interview]

Pradhan, between 2008 to 2011, served Indian cricket in ODI and T20I formats

Pradhan, between 2008 to 2011, served Indian cricket in ODI and T20I formats
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Vaishnavi Iyer
VAISHNAVI IYER

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Red Bull has developed itself as a platform for young and aspiring cricketers from colleges and institutions to fight for a chance to make it big on the international scene. In the year 2012, the company introduced Red Bull Campus Cricket to promote the game and provide new generation cricketers a platform to demonstrate their talents and expertise.

The RBCC is a competition for university-level cricketers that has been running for over a decade. In 2022, the magnificent event celebrated its 11th year, and for the last two years, the women’s leg has been included in the event to give women’s cricket a boost and encourage them to play as much as possible.

Last year’s women’s edition included just two teams, but this year’s event has grown to four teams, with plans to add additional teams in future editions to strengthen the spirit of competitiveness among the players and inspire them.

CricTracker got in touch with former India cricketer Snehal Pradhan, who had graced the occasion on the Grand finale as she talked about the importance of the tournament for the female cricketers, the aspects of women’s cricket in the country, India women’s Tests, Women’s IPL and a lot more.

About Snehal Pradhan:

After watching Jhulan Goswami bowl on TV, Pradhan was motivated to play cricket for India and hoped to one day begin the bowling attack for the country alongside her. She pulled off her ambition in 2008, and between 2008 to 2011, she served Indian cricket in ODI and T20I formats. She announced her retirement from all forms of cricket after spearheading the Maharashtra assault for the greater part of 15 years and currently serves as an independent sports journalist and an expert commentator while continuing to promote women’s cricket in some capacity.

Excerpts from Snehal Pradhan’s interview

Q. You left the game very early, but have been a massive supporter of the game in some capacity. So how do you think RBCC is helping the young cricketers to build themselves?

This tournament fills a very important gap in the country because if you look at the existing cricket structures, it has been affected due to the pandemic, but before the pandemic inter-university cricket used to happen. But what happens there is that out of the select universities of a state or a city, the best team of the lot gets to represent at the higher level. There is no inter-college tournament. So RBCC kind of fills that gap and gives an opportunity for the young players to play for their colleges, an opportunity for those who may not get selected in the university teams to play.

So if we talk about depth in women’s cricket, we need depth in not just the state system but even below the state. Because there might be 15 girls who represent their state, but there must be probably 100 more from the state who will be willing to play. Thus, for the remaining girls, there need to be tournaments where they can express themselves and this is a lovely tournament for them to be able to do that in a very professional manner, in a way that they won’t experience anywhere else.

Q. For those players who don’t get a chance to play at RBCC, what do you think should be a motivational factor for them to prepare and come back next year?

The fact that they’re playing such a high-profile tournament, the fact that they’re playing in a tournament where the games are streamed live, and there are some people around here who are idols for them. That is a huge motivation. If a girl is not getting selected here and she is a big fan of Smriti Mandhana, then she knows that because Smriti is a Red Bull athlete, she is going to be here at this tournament. What they will have at the back of their minds will be ‘I really want to meet her, and I’m going to make sure I’m on my college team’. So, that’s a big factor.

Q. The Indian women’s team has been playing more of ODIs and T20Is, and also franchise cricket. They played two Tests last year, but no game in that format has been scheduled for this year. Where do you see Indian Women’s Tests going?

I see that the top three countries- England, Australia, and India will have a very big say in the women’s Test because we have to accept the reality that hosting a women’s Test versus hosting three T20 matches, the broadcaster will definitely choose the latter option. It is more cost-effective for the organizers also. So only countries which have a healthy financial position are the ones that are taking the responsibility to keep the Women’s Test format alive. And I would love to see a few more Test matches happening for our Indian women, now that we have seen two games being played last year.

Every high-pressure format helps a cricketer to build composure. People who are calmer will do better. That is what we have seen in every format of the game irrespective of the duration. But Test cricket definitely has a special place in the heart of all cricketers and the boards can definitely support the Test format by hosting more Tests. Whenever there is a team that is willing to play a Test match, the board should be willing to make that investment in the game. It may not be a return-on-investment kind of a venture, but to make that investment in order to keep that format alive.

Q. What do you think would be the impact of a full-fledged Women’s IPL on the growth and development of women’s cricket in India, and the development of the women cricketers from around the globe?

It will be a fantastic thing whenever it does happen. Because if you look at the Indian domestic system, there are 35 teams, and having something like a six-team IPL, and maybe an eight-team IPL in the future will condense the best talent from those 35 teams into six or eight teams and add the talent of overseas players as well. So it will make a stepping stone between domestic and international cricket, give domestic cricketers an exposure to play with the international players, and therefore increase the levels of the cricket that they are playing. Hence, overall, it will be an absolute win-win for literally everyone in the ecosystem.