Girls who play cricket in Siliguri, a city that has given the country a cricketer like Richa Ghosh, have flagged a number of issues that cause them serious inconveniences during daily practice sessions and matches.
In Siliguri, many girls come for cricket practice to the Kanchenjunga Stadium and to a number of other smaller grounds dotted across the city.
According to these cricketers, all these grounds — barring the stadium — lack washrooms, changing rooms and personal rooms.
“Except for the Kanchenjunga Stadium, there is no other place in the town where women cricketers can have proper washroom facilities. Also, the absence of changing rooms makes it very inconvenient for these cricketers to practise for long hours,” said a senior cricketer.
Priyanka Kurmi, the captain of the Siliguri district senior team, who is a batter and spin bowler, said such infrastructure should come up in all the grounds of the city immediately.
“There are many girls who practise cricket in different fields of Siliguri. But if they are deprived of basic facilities like washrooms and changing rooms, it would only discourage girls from the game and excelling in it,” pointed out Kurmi.
Puja Adhikari, a 20-year-old batter and leg spinner, said that the absence of these facilities was so awkward that it made many young girls with potential discontinue their practice.
“If we have these facilities, we would be able to practice in peace all round the year. Regular practice is necessary to hone the skills of a cricketer. The response among the local girls to play cricket is pretty good and we can have more players like Richa Ghosh. But because of the lack of some very basic infrastructure like washrooms, many back out. The SMKP (Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishador the sub-divisional sports body) and others concerned should see to it that we do not face any such problem,” Puja said.
The women cricketers also said that they also needed a turf pitch to improve their performance.
“Over the years, we have been playing either on a concrete base or in an ordinary field. But ideally, there should be a turf pitch for our practice sessions. In the absence of such pitches in our hometown, we face problems when we go to Calcutta or other places to play matches,” Aruna Barman, a 22-year-old bowler, said.
She said that earlier when she just started playing cricket, there was no proper coach here.
“Because of the lack of guidance I had to lose some crucial years. It is only recently, that we have got a good coach who has really helped us win some of our matches,” she said.
Manoj Verma, the cricket secretary of the SMKP, admitted to the problems faced by the girls.
“These are, of course, important issues. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has taken up the initiative to develop infrastructure for cricket in north Bengal so that promising cricketers, both boys and girls, can get proper places and platforms to hone their skills,” said Verma.