What next for Indian eves
MK: What is the way forward for the Women in Blue now?
AC: It always remains the same whether you win or lose a tournament. You'll have to step onto the pitch and prepare for the next assignment and get better. I am sure it will be the same for the team. Their focus now will be on doing better in the upcoming limited-overs tour of England. The team which is picked up for the tour is almost the same (that participated in the CWG). Some players are also participating in The Hundred, so they will be already accustomed to the pitch and conditions.
On upcoming ICC Women's World T20
MK: The next big tournament is the Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa in February 2023. How strong does the current side looks and should the preparations begin now keeping that tournament in mind?
AC: The preparation for a big event doesn't start in a week or a month. The teams keep working in that direction for years and the performance Indian women's side has been good if you look at past tournaments. But yes, the way the current team is shaping up is impressive. As I mentioned earlier, there has been a lot of improvement. They did well in Sri Lanka and they carried the momentum forward in the CWG Games as well. There has been a steady growth in the team for quite some time but as the T20 world cup approaches, you tend to see some rapid growth but it depends on individuals. In the CWG we saw the middle order needs to play with more aggression and they should work in this direction.
ICC Women's Future Tours Programme
MK: Your comments on the announcement of the ICC Women's Future Tours Programme. The Indian Team, however, will get to play just two Test matches in 2023. How do you look at it?
AC: I look at it as glass half-full rather than looking at it as half empty. This is the first time the ICC has announced a Women's Future Tours Programme, which in itself is no mean feat because a lot of planning and hard work must have gone into it. It was in the early and mid-2000s when women's cricket came under the individual cricket boards but it took nearly 17-18 years to prepare the first future tours programme for women. So kudos to the ICC for coming up with that. I think the ICC has done a commendable job as it takes a lot of communication and planning to fix the tours between the ten boards because you have to keep everyone on the same page.
The biggest positive of the future tours programme is that every team and player will now know when and where they are going to play a tournament and in which format. They will be aware of which country they are going to play next and hence prepare accordingly. This in itself is a big strike forward. Coming to your question, (of Indian Team getting two Tests only), let's just say it is the first time and there will always be room for improvement and things will get more organised next time onwards. In 2024, there are lesser games for the Indian Women's Cricket Team as of now, but they can get more tours planned by then because you can always schedule more bilateral tours and that will happen for sure.
On Men's Cricket Team
MK: The Indian men's team looks a lot changed since its disastrous run in the ICC T20 World Cup in 2021. What changes do you see in this team ever since?
AC: The style of play has definitely changed and that is for everyone to see. You keep changing and evolving for that is a natural progression. The men's team has been doing consistently well in the past. They've done well at home, in England and on the West Indies tour. I think they will once again bring their A game in the Asia Cup 2022 as well.
On Hardik Pandya's rise
MK: Your thoughts on the leadership of Hardik Pandya and the way he's led the team whenever he was given the responsibility?
AC: Hardik has always been an asset to the side. Yes, his performance was affected due to the injury but since his recovery, he has once again proven how big a match-winner he has been and the changes are for everyone to see. He seems to be feeding off of the added responsibility. We all wanted him to be a match-winner and he's doing it, isn't he?
On multiple captaincy options
MK: Who do you think will be a better captain between Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant for India?
AC: Let's not think too much about that. Rohit is currently leading the side and how. When the time comes things will get clear about his successor as well. We should be pleased with the fact that there are already a few captaincy options available and that's the best thing for Indian cricket.
On Team India's Playing XI in Asia Cup
MK: Do you think Dinesh Karthik will be able to secure a spot in the Playing XI in the Asia Cup?
AC: See, it all depends on the team combination and how many bowlers the captain wants into the side. You don't just play with batters. There has to be a perfect balance. If the captain wants more bowlers then he might not make the cut but it all depends on the conditions and team management's strategy.
On Virat and Rohit's captaincy styles
MK: What changes do you see in the captaincy styles of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli?
AC: Honestly, I don't see any change. They are both stalwarts of the game and they both have been proven match-winners over the years for Indian cricket. If you look from their point of view then captaincy is just another job and they hardly give a thought about what one has achieved and the other hasn't. If you look at the graph of Indian cricket in the last 10-12 years, be it under MS (Dhoni), Virat or Rohit, we have kept growing and getting better in terms of performance. A captain's job is to ensure that the team keeps improving and continues moving forward which all three of them have done. And that will also be the role of the ones coming after them. So, you can't really compare because conditions and the team's requirements (from two captains) can never be the same.