New Delhi: Indian women's cricket captain Mithali Raj was asked whether she has ever experienced any approach by the bookies to fix a match as the ICC's five-day meeting got underway. Mithali was here as a 'special invitee' as the ICC's quarterly meeting began with discussions on women's cricket.
"She was here for a small part during the meeting. She was asked whether she has encountered any instances of match-fixing. She said she has not till date," an ICC official said. Since Under-19 and women's matches are being televised more and more, ICC wants to take precautionary measures.
Before any ICC event, even the U-19 and women's teams have to attend the classes of the ICC integrity unit on how to tackle corrupt approaches. While the focus is more on U-19s as it's about teenagers, women's game is also becoming popular due to live coverage on television. ICC wants more and more live coverage of women's game and hence the need for checks and balances.
Mithali painted a picture of significant changes the women's game had undergone in the last decade -- from not even knowing there was an Indian women's team when she first started playing to not being able to walk down the street unrecognised.
In front of an audience comprising ICC Member CEOs, head of Women's Cricket and other leaders in the game, Mithali said she hoped this was a turning point. "This is the beginning of good times for women's cricket, what happened in the World Cup and the way people now see women's cricket as a viable sport," she said.
"There is no longer any ignorance about the women's game, cricket talk is not limited to the men's game or among men's fans. The reach is now there, so the common man can see women's cricket and we are breaking viewership records and it is important we continue that interest."
Mithali further hailed the stand-alone women's events and said she looked forward to the ICC World T20 later this year. "Double-headers were important at first but no matter how good the women's cricket, it was always overshadowed by the men. At a stand-alone tournament, you own the stage and it's another opportunity to promote the game on a larger platform."
Holly Colvin, the ICC Women's Cricket Manager, said the seed to broadcast every match of the Women's World Cup was sown at the inaugural ICC Women's Forum last year. "The group here can influence and change the women's cricket landscape for the better. The 2017 ICC Women's World Cup was a resounding success but we cannot rest on our laurels. This year's forum is about how we maintain the momentum and continue to grow the women's game."
Day two of the forum continues tomorrow with a focus on sharing best practice and growing of the number of women and girls in cricket.