Harmanpreet Kaur, the veteran Indian women’s team cricketer and captain, has been a vocal advocate for enhancing women's cricket and has recently called for more opportunities for women to play Test matches.
At 34 years old, Harmanpreet represents the essence of top-level women's cricket, having played a significant number of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).
However, she has only featured in three Test matches so far in her illustrious career, and she believes that Test cricket holds a crucial place in women's cricket development.
Speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, Harmanpreet expressed her desire for more Test matches, stating that Test cricket had a significant impact on her as a young aspiring cricketer.
She reminisced about how Tests were more prevalent on television during her formative years compared to the abundance of T20 matches in the modern era.
Test cricket, with its strategic nuances and timeless battles, holds a special place in every cricketer's heart, and Harmanpreet Kaur believes it is essential to bring back this format in women's cricket.
“As a player, I definitely want more Tests because as a growing kid, we saw more Tests on TV than T20s,” Harmanpreet said on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.
“It's a lot of fun playing T20s but Test cricket is something every cricketer wants to play…we have to bring back Test matches in women's cricket because it's very important for women's cricket.”
However, the future of Test cricket in women's cricket seems uncertain, as the 2022-25 Women's Future Tours Programme (FTP) cycle includes only two Test matches for India.
These matches are scheduled to be played at home in the 2023-24 season against formidable opponents like England and Australia.
Notably, only four teams are set to participate in Test cricket during this cycle, with India being allocated the fewest number of matches compared to England (five), Australia (four), and South Africa (three).
Harmanpreet is optimistic that these upcoming Test matches will have a transformative impact on women's cricket and help pave the way for more Test cricket in the future. She believes that the historical format plays a vital role in honing a player's skills and mental toughness, which ultimately benefits the entire women's cricket ecosystem.
Harmanpreet Kaur provides insights on women's domestic cricket
Harmanpreet expressed her concern about the lack of long-duration domestic cricket in India. The last time multi-day domestic women's cricket was conducted in India was during the 2017-18 season, when the BCCI organized an inter-zonal three-day tournament and an inter-zonal Under-19 two-day tournament.
While she acknowledged the progress made in domestic women's cricket, especially with the inception of the Women's Premier League (WPL), Harmanpreet hopes that long-format cricket will resume soon.
“Trust me, [domestic cricket] has improved a lot,” she said. “Initially when I started playing, we hardly got domestic games but for the last couple of years, domestic level has improved a lot. We are getting more games and some domestic games are live also, people can watch on TV.
“It is improving day by day but in my early days we used to play two- and three-day games which we are really missing, and I'm sure after these two Test matches hopefully we'll get two-day matches back. The more cricket we get, the more improvement we'll see in women's cricket.
She fondly recalled the days when they used to play two- and three-day matches, emphasizing that the return of longer-format games would lead to more significant improvements in women's cricket.
The launch of the Women's Premier League (WPL) in 2023 was a game-changing moment for women's cricket in India.
Harmanpreet Kaur led the Mumbai Indians to victory in the inaugural edition of the tournament, which garnered immense popularity among cricket enthusiasts. She acknowledged that the introduction of the WPL was a step in the right direction, although it might have been delayed. Harmanpreet believes that the success of the WPL will encourage the inclusion of more teams and players in subsequent editions, further elevating women's cricket in the country.
“Definitely it's improving day by day and [I] hope to see some more talent in the Indian side,” she said.
“As you mentioned WPL was a game-changing moment for us, the tournament was so good, everyone loved it back home, we had a great experience and hopefully next year we'll get some more young talent who can take this cricket higher.”
Harmanpreet Kaur's plea for more Test cricket for women cricketers reflects the sentiments of many players and fans worldwide. Test cricket has a unique charm and challenge that enriches players' skills and produces intense contests.
Harmanpreet's advocacy for longer-duration domestic cricket also highlights the importance of nurturing talent at the grassroots level. However, women’s Test action has been few and far between for women cricketers and that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future with the ICC Future Tours Programme firmly in place.