‘The bar has been set, if you can’t breach it, then at least you have to match it’

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Anjum Chopra (L) with Harmanpreet Kaur.

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is all set to host the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE from September 19 to November 8 this year after the International Cricket Council (ICC) postponed the T20 World Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the board’s decision to withdraw the women’s team from the tri-series in England has drawn severe criticism, that too at a time when the Women’s World Cup 2021 is just months away.

However, former skipper Anjum Chopra feels that India will eventually play catch-up if they don’t begin training with other teams across the globe slowly getting back to action. “If the girls had gone to England, that means, they would have started training before the tour. And then they would have gone there and quarantined,” Chopra was quoted as saying to India Today.

“Like the Pakistan men’s team has been there since the time the first Test match started in England (against West Indies). So obviously, when you start working backward, the team would have started training earlier, the team would have started matches earlier and then going out and playing a triangular series with South Africa and England. If you isolate all that and say whether the women’s team had an opportunity to start training and start coming back into the fold, yes there was an opportunity.”

Chopra, a 2007 Arjuna Awardee, said about the set-up that England has prepared and how they are continuing the games in their country, “Especially because cricket in England is already happening, they are already playing, they have already got set-up in place for everything. There is straightaway a lag of a couple of months because everybody else has started training. If you are going to start two months after others have started training, you’re going to play catch-up. The others have started training but the Indian team hasn’t,” she added.

Chopra who has played six World Cups for India thinks that the BCCI team should start focusing on the upcoming World Cup in New Zealand. “At this point of time, it doesn’t really matter about only a women’s IPL, the players should start getting to be together and focus on working towards the upcoming World Cup in New Zealand because that is going to be a very important World Cup for the Indian team. They have played the final, semi-finals and then the final in the last three years. It becomes very important. The bar has been set, if you can’t breach it, then at least you have to match it,” said the former left-hander.

Chopra advised that BCCI can create a bio-secure bubble in the country hosting a training camp for the contracted players sooner than later. “We all know for sure that this is what the situation is. We all know what it is. If the board can get the contracted players, I am not talking about the women, it’s up to the boys as well, to start having a camp in a bio-secure environment in any of the cities in the county,” said Chopra, who has played in 12 Tests and 116 ODIs and the first woman to score 1,000 runs in One-dayers.

“When you see a bio-secure environment, it doesn’t mean that in that part of the state or city, the coronavirus does not exist. It’s a bio-secure environment, if everyone is safe and sound, keeping all the checks, then the board can organise a camp. I think the camp is the way forward, that kind of bio-secure bubble needs to be thought out and planned. Ensuring that people who are fit start training,” she concluded.

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