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Organise more A tours; bring back longer format for women's domestic cricket: Mamatha Maben

IANS | March 30, 2022 03:43 PM

NEW DELHI: Former India skipper Mamatha Maben thinks that organising more A tours for the India women's team and reintroducing the longer format of the game at the domestic level will benefit the national side in the longer run.

With the next edition of the women's ODI World Cup scheduled for 2025, Maben observed that focusing on A tours and longer format of the game, which hasn't happened since 2018, will help the national side even more.

"I feel that a little more needs to be done at the domestic level because whatever we are doing now is for the cream. But for how long will the cream last? The second tier (of players), they need more A tours. If I have to pick one, it will be more A tours and probably bring back the longer version of the game for the overall growth of the system. If you have to produce wicket-taking bowlers, we need them to learn on how to take 20 wickets, " said Maben in an interview to IANS.

"When you play longer format, you can pile 'n' number of runs. But if you cannot purchase 20 wickets, we can't win the game. In the bargain, they will learn to bowl to attacking fields as now the mindset is mostly to restrict. We can't blame them as they are mostly playing the restrictive formats. There are small pockets, the two-three or five over phase in ODIs where we need to purchase wickets; not only to defend but we need to learn to strike.

"Those skillsets will only develop if you are used to playing longer format, " added Maben, who played four Tests and 40 ODIs for India from 1993 to 2004.

Maben pointed out that her generation of players, including Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, evolved themselves by playing the longer format of the game.

"Jhulan, Mithali and all of us grew up playing three-day games, at least in the semis as well as the finals. But this current generation has not grown up on that. From the bowling perspective, for us to learn how to purchase wickets, we need to play the longer format. Tests will also grow as despite not playing longer format, we performed brilliantly in the recent Tests we played. Imagine if having a longer format and for the overall growth of the game, players can evolve well, like a Kohli has evolved by playing longer format, right?"

Maben, currently working as head coach of Karnataka women's team, also feels restarting zonal championships would be beneficial in having more competitive matches in women's cricket circuit in India.

"You have to bring back the inter-zonal championships, where you have players playing for their own five zones. Like, Harry (Harmanpreet Kaur) pwill play for north zone, Smriti (Mandhana) will play for west zone and south players for south zone. Just get five teams for as many zones and you will see the quality of the games by making sure all international players are here. And from there, pick the India squad. You add one more tournament, the competition will be so good.

"With due respect to everyone, I don't think the Challenger tournament is our top-most tournament because the cream is not there, sense of belonging is not there and things like that will not happen in zonal competition. To start off, it can be both (List A and T20). Nothing stops us from having both. If one has to choose, it will be 50-overs as the ODI World Cup is more prestigious and happens once in four years while T20 World Cup is once in two years.

"T20 will have its own league in women's IPL, so better to keep the zonal one to a 50-over format."

Maben signed off by appreciating the move of bringing a sports psychologist, Dr Mugdha Bavare, travelling with the Indian team during the five-match ODI series against New Zealand followed by the ICC Women's World Cup. She believes that having a sports psychologist helps in doing well in crunch situations where mental application is needed more than technical skills.

"This is the most welcome step because every individual needs that. There is only so much a head coach can do and is trained to handle that aspect of the game. But just marginally, little bit we can tinker here or there; to go in-depth, it takes a professional and, in this day, and age, it is more of a necessity. Mental skills are as vital as the technical skills, especially at the elite level.

"At the elite level, there is very little to separate in terms of technical efficiency and most of them are up there. But what is the difference, is what happens within our mindsets. That differentiates how we are going to apply what we have. That is where it is needed, most needed but better late than never. I think they should continue and we will see results, may not see in short term as it is not an easy subject; it's pretty vast. But in the long term, we will see a lot of benefits and it is one of most welcome steps taken by BCCI."

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