It is a very well-known fact that Indians are very passionate about cricket and being a cricketer in India is a very prestigious and lucrative profession. And why wouldn’t it be, when it is the most popular and well received sport. But unfortunately for the women this is far from the truth.

India has created somewhat of a godly persona for players like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, which is well deserved in my opinion. But these idolizations are not extended to our women’s team, who are just as good as the men. The sad fact remains that while we remember every detail about the men, the majority cannot even name half the players in the women’s team.

Why is that so? That is the million-dollar question. One of the major reasons is the age-old problem of gender biasness. When we look through the history of India, we see that it took 62 years for the Women’s Cricket Association to be formed in 1973, and three more for the women to play their first match, in 1976. Whereas the English and Australian women’s teams were already established way back in the 1930’s.

When we look at the present state, we see that the Indian women have achieved a lot over the years, be it their six back to back wins in Women’s T20 Asia Cup, or Jhulan Goswami who is the all-time highest wicket taker in ODI’s or most notably Mithali Raj who became the first Indian cricketer to score 2000 runs in T20 cricket, that too edging out Virat Kohli. But these were not given the due coverage that it needed. This is because, a huge majority of the population do not view women’s cricket to be on par with their male counterparts. They feel that the women would not play as well as the men. The ingrained patriarchal views contribute a lot too.

This gender discrimination is not just seen from the public’s side, but also from media houses as well. Take for instance when Mithali Raj was asked about her favorite men’s cricketer during the opening dinner and media roundtable event of the Women’s World Cup 2017. Her response was something to behold. What she said brought to light how media also focuses more on men’s cricket.

Cricket, like others, is a sport. But to the media, it is an opportunity to make money. The media will only broadcast those matches or tournaments that will garner them the highest viewership, and since women’s cricket do not have much takers, the media will never cover it as intensively as they do the men’s game. It is for this same reason that the women do not get any lucrative endorsement deals and advertisements. Ultimately, all these ties to the prevalent gender biasness and lack of interest of the public.

The pay disparity also tells a sad story about how the governing bodies view women’s cricket. The players are given an annual contract and are paid per the category of contract that they belong to. The men under the Grade A contact get paid a whopping 7cr. While the women, under the Grade A contract get paid a paltry 50 lakhs. This is a huge problem.

Then there are those who say that the women are not biologically capable of performing as well as the men. To those, I ask, is it necessary to compare them to the men? Compare them with other women’s teams like the Australians or the English if you will. But it is pointless, I feel, to compare them to the men’s game. To quote the great Mithali Raj “I appeal to public not to compare women’s cricket with men’s cricket. I request them to see women’s cricket in a different light. It’s a sport in its own way.”

Though things have slowly started to change for the better, after cricketing board merged the Women’s cricketing association, these changes are not supplemented the way it should be, which is alarming. And all of this boils down to one thing. Fan support. It is the fans that make the sport.

Despite the number of records being broken and history being created, women’s cricket still needs to travel a whole lot more to reach that pinnacle and get the accolades that they deserve. And it is the Indian sports fans, who needs to broaden their horizons and embrace the sport. A change in attitude of both the governing bodies, the media, and above all, the people themselves, is indispensable for women’s cricket to get what they truly deserve.