Ahead of the one-off Test between India and England Women teams, Mithali Raj has stated this series might well be the beginning of the three formats bilateral series. She also added that the team management is trying to prepare the younger players in every which way for the one-off Test.
Test matches in women's cricket are more of a rarity than a norm. To put things into perspective, when India takes on England's women side in the one-off Test starting from June 16 in Bristol, it would be their first Test in seven years. Mithali Raj, whose career has spanned over two decades in international cricket, has hardly played 10 Tests while the number goes up significantly in the other formats with her featuring in 214 ODIs and 89 T20Is respectively.
However, the Indian skipper is hopeful that the one-off Test against England and then the Pink-ball Test against Australia, would serve as a beginning of having more and more three formats bilateral series in women's cricket. She also expressed the desire to play more red-ball cricket
“I feel that this Test match and the one in Australia is a beginning of having a three format bilateral series. It opens channels for another format in a bilateral series, it increases standard of women’s cricket. All cricketers want to play the longer format, it’s good to have it. Maybe in the coming years, it might also lead to a World Test Championship. You never know, this is just the beginning," Mithali said in a press conference on the eve of the Test.
Given how few Test matches India have played for a long time, there will be a plethora of inexperienced players featuring in the one-off Test against England. Mithali revealed that the youngsters have been made to talk to the seniors and the team management has organized quite a few net sessions so that the players make a smooth transition to the longer format.
“We did brief them (youngsters) about how this format is played. You don’t want to burden the debutants with expectations, the team will support them on the field. He (Ramesh Powar, the coach) got seniors to speak to the juniors who have lesser experience. Such communication helps the team prepare for the Test. They should just enjoy the format. One thing is that, there were a few sessions we have in whites so that the girls don’t overwhelmed walking in whites into the ground for the first time. We tried getting the feel to the net session so that it doesn’t feel alien to the girls," she said.
However, the veteran Indian player is well aware that no matter how much a team prepare, executing things on the ground is a completely different challenge.
“We can do our best preparation in the nets, but at the ground, it’s down to the situation. Players will respond accordingly. It’s just that we’re trying to get their mindset tuned to red ball. What are the variations the bowlers can do, what mindset the batters should have. These are the preparations that we have put in."
Talking about her preparations, the 38-years-old said that she had a word with few other players who have experience of playing red-ball cricket and that should hold her in good stead.
“I’ve played lesser Tests than ODIs/T20s. I’d have liked to have more Tests, but nevertheless, getting these Tests… it goes down to preparation. The preparation has been similar. Talking to other cricketers who have played the format has helped me prepare for this Test match."