Mithali Raj requests BCCI for organising more Tests for women

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Hyderabad : India`s top woman cricketer Mithali Raj has urged the BCCI to organise more Test mathces for the national women team, which is set to play its first five-day match in eight year when they tour England in August.

The Test match in England will be their first since 2006.

Mithali, 31, has played 148 ODIs since making her debut in 1999 but has featured in only eight Tests.

“We are touring England in August and we are playing one Test. Though I have scored 214 in a Test match, I am playing a Test after eight long years. It is sad that there are so few Test matches in women`s cricket and I hope the Boards come together and organise more Test matches for women,” said the former women`s captain here.

“As an experienced cricketer, I would take some time to prepare my temperament and preparation needed for Test cricket,” she said last evening on Day 2 of the Sports Journalists` Federation of India`s annual convention at the Rajiv Gandhi Uppal Stadium.

The right-hander stressed that the takeover of Indian women`s cricket by the BCCI had proven to be beneficial but also had its flip side like a short-duration domestic season.

“I would say it`s good but there is a flip side to it also. The domestic cricket is organised well and we get access to facilities like the National Cricket Academy. There are also monetary benefits like you get paid, but the flip side is that the domestic cricket is very short. I believe that you need to play more domestic matches to produce more players,” she said.

She also asked BCCI to follow the example of the other Boards and offer centralised contracts to the Indian women players. “As far as I know we are the only team which does not have a central contract with the national board. I don`t know what is holding it up but it would be good if it happens because it would give security to players, who do not have a secure job,” she added.

Another speaker, former India hockey player Viren Rasquinha, who is the CEO of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), stressed the role of the organisation in helping raise funds to support training of the Indian athletes to prepare for mega events like the Olympic Games.

“OGQ has to raise funds to raise money to support our athletes. We currently support 55 athletes. Forty are senior athletes such as (shuttlers) PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. We have set protocol on the medical support. It`s the speed of medical support which is made available to the athletes (that is important).

“The athletes are not training in big metros like Mumbai or Delhi but in small towns like the wrestlers are doing in Sonepat where doctors are not easily available. Everyone who works in our support team, like doctors or physiotherapists, need to be world class because they are dealing with top international stars like Sindhu, Saina or (shooter) Gagan Narang,” he said.

“We take care of the athletes like our own family members because we want them to focus on training and competition,” he said.

Rasquinha also spoke on OGQ`s recently-introduced crowd funding programme to raise funds for four of their athletes.

“We have started the crowd funding programme to organise funds for four of our potential medal winning athletes including Irfan KT (race walking), Vikas Gowda (discus throw), Ayonika Paul and Pooja Ghatkar (rifle shooting) through the website ogq.Ketto.Org,” he said.

The third participant, rising shuttler Sindhu, said that she was preparing hard to win medals at both the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the following Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

“For me this is just the start and I have to work harder with tournaments coming up in Australia and Indonesia and then the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which is also my first,” said the lanky Hyderabadi.

“I want to win a medal there (CWG) and also at the Asian Games which will also have the Chinese players. It would be the toughest tournament. I will try to give my best and win a medal there,” said the teenager who won a world championship singles bronze medal last year in Guangzhou, China.

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