It's for the entire generation of women cricketers: Shanta

It's for the entire generation of women cricketers: Shanta

A pioneer for women’s cricket in the country, Shanta Rangaswamy was indeed the right choice for BCCI’s Lifetime Achievement Award — a first such prize for a female cricketer.

The first-ever captain of the Indian women’s team and the first skipper to win a Test series, Shanta felt it’s totally gratifying to finally see decades of sweat and toil gain recognition.

“A lot of people have been calling me and to everyone I’ve been saying the same thing: It is a small step for me but a giant leap for women’s cricket.

“The BCCI took over the administration of women’s cricket in 2006 and it’s very nice to see that after 11 years, they are finally giving an award of this stature to a woman cricketer. Earlier it was just a pipe dream. Now it has become reality. Now we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope this award inspires the next generation of female cricketers.”

The 63-year-old Shanta, who retired as a general manager of Canara Bank, felt this award doesn’t belong to her alone but the entire crop that played with her and laid the foundation for women’s cricket in the country.

“This award belongs to the entire generation of women cricketers who built the game in the 1970s. Back then there was nothing. I still remember the first nationals in April 1973 -- two and a half teams competed. Maharashtra and Mumbai had a full team each while Uttar Pradesh had some 5-6 players. Excess players from Maharashtra and Mumbai competed for UP. In the next Nationals, 16 teams took part.

“We had nothing back then. We had to travel by train unreserved. There was absolutely no financial reward. Railways was the only team paying its players. However, the lack of financial rewards was never a deterrent for us. We had a deep passion for the game and we loved playing the sport. I’m really happy that despite various hardships over the decades, the sport has survived and is going strong. It just shows how committed we are. I just hope the sport reaches greater heights,” added Shanta, who did her schooling in Mahila Seva Samaja and PUC from Vijaya College.

An Arjuna award winner, Shanta’s next goal is to pursue BCCI in handing pensions for yesteryear women cricketers. “Ever since BCCI took over women’s cricket, it has seen rapid improvement. There is lot of security now for them. It’s very professional. But, just like how male cricketers receive pension, I request them to grant pension for women cricketers too. There are a lot of cricketers from my generation who have played for a pittance. They deserve something in return. Also such a scheme will inspire the next generation as well.”

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