Gender Equality in Cricket: Women’s cricketers are about to get a huge boost from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Board is now prepared to incorporate female umpires in the Ranji Trophy 2022–23 season after pay parity. It will be the first time ever that women umpires would preside over a Ranji season, making this a historic occasion.
The 2022–23 Ranji Trophy season will include Vrinda Rathi, Janani Narayanan, and Gayathri Vengopalan as officials. The three strong women have a passion for cricket as their common aim. When the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) opened up applications for the position of umpire, Janani left her work as a software engineer. Before having a fortuitous encounter with New Zealand umpire Kathy Cross, Rathi was a scorer for the Mumbai Maidens.
About the Umpires
Rathi, a 32-year-old medium pacer from Mumbai, had played for Mumbai University. She was a frequent scorer in neighborhood matches in Mumbai and passed the BCCI tests for scorers in 2010. When she first met the New Zealand umpire, she was the official BCCI scorer for the women’s World Cup in 2013. She passed the BCCI examination after passing the tests given by the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Despite never having taken up the sport seriously, 36-year-old Narayanan has always been drawn to cricket. To the amazement of local officials, she had contacted the TNCA in 2009 and 2012 to request an application form to work as an umpire. She received a form in 2015 when the state organisation finally revised its policies and attitudes. After passing the BCCI’s Level 2 umpiring exam in 2018, Narayanan made the decision to leave her IT position.
Venugopalan, a 43-year-old Delhi resident who aspired to play cricket professionally, had to reevaluate her goals after suffering a shoulder injury. 2019 saw her enlist as an umpire after quitting her corporate job and passing the BCCI umpiring examinations.
What the Officials Said
The three umpires are now ready to make their Ranji season debuts. “From now on, women will be permitted to officiate Ranji Trophy matches. This is merely a beginning. A BCCI insider informed The Indian Express that the organisation has decided to give them a chance in the men’s game as well.
The board anticipates declaring something officially soon. From Round 2 of the competition, Rathi Narayanan and Venugopalan are expected to serve as referees. Due to their involvement in the women’s T20I series between Australia and India, the pair will miss the opening leg.The three female umpires are all scheduled to preside in the 2023 Ranji season.
In the CK Nayudu Games for under-23 males, Rathi and Narayanan served as officials.
The three female umpires will be visible for the first time in a sizable competition like Ranji.