International Cricket

Ind vs SA women’s Test – Amol Muzumdar – Not a bad idea to have Test Championships for women

India are going into the one-off Test against South Africa on the back of successive white-ball series sweeps – T20Is in Bangladesh and ODIs vs South Africa at home – but head coach Amol Muzumdar believes there’s scope for improvement in every department for the team.

“We do have the momentum – we won in Bangladesh, we won against South Africa,” Muzumdar said two days out from the Test in Chennai. “They are different formats, but at the same time, we are trying to focus on every game as it comes. The demands [of playing a Test] are different. I think the team is up for it and I think as far as improvement is concerned, I think all three departments – batting, bowling, and fielding, and fitness – four departments [can improve].”

The teams got only five days to prepare for the Test following the conclusion of the ODIs on June 23, but Muzumdar feels the players are aware of the challenge of switching formats considering red-ball cricket is part of their long-term plans.

“In December, we played against England and Australia, we played back-to-back Tests,” he said. “We are aware that red-ball cricket will be a part of women’s cricket going forward and hence I feel that the inter-zonal, which happened in March-April, was very critical. So that the players also get the message that it’s not just white-ball cricket or just T20s that we are focusing on. We are also focusing on the red-ball stuff and I think they are aware and they are ready and raring to go in the multi-day format. To adjust to that is a different story.

“Those are the demands of modern-day cricket. You know you cannot escape that as a team. So we try to cater to all the demands. It’s not easy, but at the same time it’s a challenge and we accept it as a challenge to adapt to different formats.”

While the core of the team won’t change as India switch formats, the likes of Shubha Satheesh, Sneh Rana, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Meghna Singh, who did not play the ODIs, will be coming in for the Test.

“I think those four players are very important players. We did have a camp that happened at the NCA about 15 days back and they were specifically given red-ball stuff to be done in the camp,” Muzumdar said. “So they’ve already had the workload. The workload has been shared to them and also when they went back home they were told a few things to do. Their weekly chart was organised and given to them. So they’re completely fresh and raring to go. Even when they’ve come here and [are] in the squad, we just had a practice session yesterday with those four players and they look absolutely fine.”

While the ODIs were part of the Women’s Championships, Muzumdar said he wouldn’t mind a men’s style World Test Championship for women to add more context to the format. However, only four teams – Australia, England, India and South Africa – currently play Test cricket.

“It’s not a bad idea to have Test Championships,” he said. “That’s something to look forward to, but that is for the board to decide. And if it happens, it’s even better for the game. Test cricket is always special. We like to keep it that way, that you know every game is important [regardless of the context], whether it’s ODI, T20 or Test match. I know there is no Test Championship to look forward to, but at the same time, every game is important. We take part to win them.”

Muzumdar also said that Shabnam Shakil, the 17-year-old uncapped medium pacer, was brought into the side for all three formats so she could get a feel of the team culture. Shakil was part of the U-19 World Cup-winning India team last year, and also made an impression at WPL 2024 for Gujarat Giants, especially when she took 3 for 11 against Mumbai Indians.

“She’s definitely a superb talent and that’s the reason she is here,” he said. “We’ve made a conscious decision of including her in the team so that she gets a feel of the dressing room and also the atmosphere and the culture that we’re building. She gets a first-hand experience to that. She’s definitely a good talent and we will hear more about her in the future.”

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