J.A lot of people saw Jim Locker at 90 for Old Trafford and Ian Botham for 149 at Headingley but most of the cheeks were set on fire and on top of each other, you Suspects Bristol County Ground Complete rather than disappointed than last week. Not because it was the first time India had played Tests for seven years or because of cricket itself, which was great, but because a 17-year-old superstar made his Test debut in Making.
Shafali Verma was declared the best player of the match by scoring 96 and 63 runs. But it was not just numbers. It was calm, strong, calm. Simple removal of bad hair. Glide delicacy under the third man. Large, upright drives. Stable forward defense with high, high elbow. As a teenager, the teenager’s ability to go for a great shot and the intense frustration of the spectators, whose homely instincts were temporarily overwhelmed by his sympathy.
Verma’s story is not about a golden girl who is destined for dignity. She hates the traditional view of the role of women in Haryana, a socially conservative state in northern India, and the girls playing outside. In the 2011 census, the sex ratio (SRB) at birth in Haryana was 834 (834 girls born for every 1,000 boys) – the lowest in the country. By March 2018, SRB had improved to 928 through a campaign to celebrate women’s success and close down illicit sexual intercourse ultrasound clinics – but there is still a long way to go.
But Verma didn’t care what others thought of him. He shortened his hair, cycled 15 miles to school and played cricket with his brothers, who were jewelers, in the eyes of his father, Sanjeev. When his older brother Sahil fell ill and could not participate in the U-12 tournament, 10-year-old Shafali assured his father that with his curly hair he could slip under the radar and play instead. He won the Man of the Match award.
“Fortunately, I am being raised, which is very different from most girls my age. Verma said many people mocked the idea of a girl playing outdoor games with boys. “Despite the discouragement, my father gave me everything he would give to my older brother.”
Sanjeev trained his children thoroughly. There was a police training ground near the family house where Shafali and Sahil used to compete with the monster tractor tires while in every six they could earn five rupees from their father’s pocket.
Shafali started playing for the state team and in 2019, at the age of 15, the Women’s T20 Challenge, organized by the BCCI and held in Jaipur, was called for. Verma played for the IPL redemption, captained by India’s Test captain, Mithali Raj, and was accompanied by England’s Danny Wyatt, who came home saying he had played with a future superstar.
The baton was passed when Raj retired from T20 International and Verma was called up for the T20 squad against South Africa. She was hiccuping, not winning her first match, but a month and a half later she scored several fifty centuries in consecutive games against the West Indies, making her the youngest Indian to score an international half-century. Broke the record of his hero Sachin Tendulkar.
Since then: Boom, Boom She has hit the most number of sixes in the International Twenty20 since its inception and is the top player in the women’s T20. At last year’s Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, she shone, scoring 163 runs with a cool strike rate of 158.2, even if she was outscored by a record crowd in Australia in the final, winning the MCG. He has signed T20 contracts with the Sydney Sixers and the Birmingham Phoenix.
Despite all this, despite the thrill and potential of its nasal pollution, Verma is probably not alone in a country of 1.36 billion people. England and Australia have been accustomed to dominating women’s cricket for years, but you think the crown will soon slip.
Ever since Harmanpreet Kaur played a 171-run innings in the 2017 World Cup semi-final to dismiss Australia, India have made it to the final at the full Lord’s and Mithali Raj has been waiting for a wicket. Read the book, Indian women’s cricket revolution is ready to roar
The recent treatment of women by the BCCI makes you wonder if the authorities have any idea what the golden egg is on. The fact that the Indian women did not play for almost a year after the final of the T20 World Cup, while the men played on eight Tests and six white balls, did not pay the prize money. Which is why they are living there. In the finals for more than 14 months, the men played the entire IPL while the women won a four-match mini-tournament. But that will change. It has to be done. Player power will soon make sense, as in the men’s game.
And Verma will lead the way. Catch it whenever you can. India and England will play three more ODIs and T20s on the tour before joining the Birmingham Phoenix at the Hundred.
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