I’ve always been a BCCI basher, right from the day women’s cricket came into the BCCI fold in 2006: Edulji. © AFP

“The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) is a very male chauvinist organisation.” This is what Diana Edulji said during an informal interaction organised by The Indian Express Group in Mumbai on Wednesday (August 23).

Edulji, the former Indian skipper who is a member of Committee of Administrators (CoA), told the audience that she had been criticising the BCCI since 2006, when they took full control of India women’s cricket.

“I’ve always been a BCCI basher, right from the day women’s cricket came into the BCCI fold in 2006,” said Edulji. “They never wanted women to dictate terms or get into this thing. I was very vocal right from my playing days, from when I started. Even now, I would still say that it is not yet well accepted within BCCI that women’s cricket is doing well.”

Edulji recalled her first meeting with N Srinivasan, the then BCCI president, in 2011. “When Mr Srinivasan became president, I would like to say that I went to congratulate him at the Wankhede Stadium. He said, ‘If I had my way, I wouldn’t let women’s cricket happen’. He hates women’s cricket.”

Harmanpreet Kaur and Punam Raut, two of the star performers of India’s successful World Cup campaign in England, were also present.

While both acknowledged the increase in interest in women’s cricket in India, Raut recalled some of the difficulties she faced in her earlier days.

“There were many people in our society and some of my mother’s friends who would keep saying, ‘Isse ladki ki tarah thoda rehne ke liye sikhao. Ladki ke kaam sikhao’. They used to ask my mother to teach me to dress up like a girl,” revealed Raut. “My mother would then scold me. I would complain to my father and then they would end up arguing.

“I’ve seen today’s parents only encourage their daughters to study and say that you’ll have to get married at a fixed age and get settled,” she added. “I believe if any girl likes playing, or if a sport is her passion, then they should be allowed to play and be supported too.”

Harmanpreet also spoke about her days of struggle while growing up in Moga. “When I started, there wasn’t a single academy in Moga,” she said. “My coach started one just for me. Now, there are three exclusively for women.”.

On the topic of having an IPL for women, she said the sooner it happened, the better. “I feel like even after all that’s happened, there are a lot of changes that still need to be made for women’s cricket,” added Kaur. “I hope we don’t end up saying many years later that we also used to hit sixes during our time. I feel if IPL starts now, then it’s great.”