The legacy of a player is the summation of his personal and team’s performances. Though greater emphasis lies in the milestones that a player manages to reach during the journey.
Legacy — you either create it or carry it forward.
The Indian men’s cricket team is a prime example of legacy being carried forward.
They had a legacy built by Sourav Ganguly, carried forward by MS Dhoni and the mantle is now with Virat Kohli.
But have we had a similar legacy in women’s cricket in recent years? Have players been backed and groomed, their egos boosted enough to turn them into match-winners? Or do we only have a line-up of ‘near champions’ or players who are often found short of delivering on their promise?
This is an area where the Indian women’s team has lacked.
In all, 43 players over the last decade have made their debuts in the white-ball format. But the team still seems to be searching for that fine balance. It should be believed, that the individual players have not taken their opportunities and it can also be understood that lack of guidance from within the set-up could not allow these players to gel as a unit. Whichever way you look at it, the problem remains the same.
Over the last decade, the team has had consistent leaders in Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur but the lack of balance and stability has been their nemesis. A more proactive approach by leading individuals, a more cohesive structuring and monitoring by authorities or an amalgamation of the two might have helped.
India have delivered knockout punch when they have had their backs to the wall. But the effectiveness of it has been limited. Harmanpreet Kaur’s knock of 171 not out in the 2017 ICC World Cup semi-final will be remembered for ages. But the team needs consistent performances from its members.
The near misses in a World Cup final indicate that there is tremendous room for improvement. Shades of brilliance justify the reposed faith, but consistency strengthens the structure.
Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami have been the two pillars who have witnessed everything and are privy to all the changes. It remains their responsibility too to ensure that the baton is carried forward, much like they have done over their journey. If it needs correction from within, they remain the best judge.
If it needs alteration from the outside, they play a crucial role in its identification.
We are aware of the immense contribution made by our predecessors (women & men players) that has allowed us to play the sport. The legacy must be carried forward. It remains the players’ call on how best they can utilise their given opportunities. Just like hitting from a stable base allows more control and power in the shot. Likewise, a near-settled team allows greater room for improvement.
The Indian women’s team needs that remedy. Because the day these present leaders decide to call it a day, it might be too late to initiate and plan for the road ahead.