Biju George was following the recent women’s T20 World Cup closely. That wasn’t surprising as he had been the fielding coach of the Indian team till recently.
Biju, though, was stunned to know that all his friends in his hometown of Thiruvananthapuram, too, had watched the mega event held in Australia. He was in for a bigger ‘shock’ when the ICC released the viewership figures of the tournament: it was the most watched ICC event after the 2019 men’s ODI World Cup. Across the digital channels, there were 5.4 billion views from India alone.
The Indian fans were in for a disappointment in the final, though, as the Women in Blue were comprehensively beaten by the host. That match was watched by more than 86,000. Among them was former India seamer Snehal Pradhan. “Both Cricket Australia and ICC deserve credit for making the World Cup such a big success,” she told The Hindu. “Though I wasn’t surprised that it became such a big hit on television, I didn’t expect it would become the ICC’s second-most watched event.”
Snehal said Cricket Australia had done a lot of work on the ground, while the ICC promoted the World Cup through its digital platforms well. “This World Cup was further proof that women’s cricket is fast rising in popularity,” she said.
Biju could not have agreed more. “When I joined the support staff of the Indian team, many of my friends did not even know that we had a national team,” he said.
“India reaching the final of the 2017 World Cup, riding on Harmanpreet Kaur’s astonishing innings against Australia in the semifinal is, of course, the main reason for the change in fortune for women’s cricket here.
“We should also give credit to the huge improvement in quality across the international teams.”
Snehal said there was a time when people used to come to a watch a match in India just out of curiosity.
“Years ago, I had played a game in front of a full house at Rajkot, but most spectators were there just to see how the girls played cricket,” she said. “That is no longer the case.”