Anyone with even a passing interest in cricket in India will notice that not only is the viewership of cricket extremely gendered, but there exists a huge disparity in the media attention, national importance, and remuneration between male and female cricketers. Female players are disadvantaged in comparison to their male peers in Indian cricket.
Although the former must spend the same amount of money to improve and hone their expertise as the latter, women only earn a quarter of what male cricketers do. Women cricketers also have limited opportunities, making it increasingly difficult for them to keep playing cricket after a particular age.
As far as many die-hard cricket fans are concerned, they find women’s cricket ‘too trivial’. Sports has always tended to bring out the most misogynistic and toxic hyper-masculine behaviours at play, resulting in discrimination both inside and outside of the playground. Nevertheless, several skilled sportswomen are not only playing this male-dominated sport but are also championing it despite innumerable odds.
One such prodigy hailing from Siliguri, West Bengal is Richa Manabendra Ghosh born on September 28, 2003. Very few people can put in the hard work and have the talent to be named in India’s squad at the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, at the age of 16, as Ghosh did.
Richa Ghosh began participating in sports at a very tender age. Her father Manabendra’s passion for cricket influenced her when she was only about four years old. She could be frequently noticed near the perimeters at the Baghajatin Athletic Club in Siliguri. Her father represented the above-mentioned club and Richa would regularly accompany him.
Richa Ghosh’s attraction to cricket was immense and immediate, prompting her father to get her enrolled in a good training programme in his club. Manabendra himself couldn’t make it very far ahead in cricket and being aware of the fewer opportunities for women in cricket, he attempted to encourage Richa to explore alternative possibilities. However, her determination was absolute and she was ready to claim her space in cricket.
“Richa has played fearless cricket since her junior Bengal days. She is hungry for runs, taking good catches behind the wicket and even bowling quick deliveries,” remarked Bengal women’s team head coach, Rituparna Roy. Richa was selected to the senior Bengal camp in 2012-13 while competing for her club.
She was chosen for the Bengal under-19 team when she was 11 years old. She made it to the U-23 and senior teams when she was just over 12 years old. In 2018, she was named Bengal lady cricketer of the year. Richa Ghosh earned her T20I debut in the Tri-series in Australia before the T20 World Cup in 2020.
Now an 18-year-old batter and wicket-keeper, Richa Ghosh has largely played T20s for India. She has cemented her spot in both forms and is regarded as one of India’s promising cricketers, thanks to her offensive batting and acrobatic keeping. One of her most stellar performances was when she hit 50 off 26 balls in the fourth ODI against New Zealand, the quickest fifty by an Indian women’s cricketer.
Richa Ghosh, who played against Pakistan in the ICC Women’s World Cup on 6th March 2022 at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, was exceptional behind the stumps, dismissing five batsmen. Speaking of Richa, her father said, “She is fearless and likes to contribute her bit in batting and wicket-keeping.”
Richa Ghosh has become the only World Cup debutant to have five or more dismissals. She also broke the record for the most catches in an ODI inning by an Indian woman wicketkeeper. People have taken to social media to celebrate Richa, who stunned everyone with her incredible performance in her World Cup debut. “I know it’s unusual for a player to be both a keeper and a bowler, but I don’t want to stop doing either,” Richa said a couple of years earlier to Sportstar.
Richa’s strong performances in the three T20s against Australia helped her land a WBBL contract with the Hobart Hurricanes. Cricketer-turned-coach Shib Shankar Paul said, “My first few interactions with Richa, all she ever wanted to do was hit the big shots. Every ball she faced. She could do it all day if you let her have a go at it. And she has the ability, mind you.”
Despite all of the obstacles she encountered as a young girl, Richa Ghosh has proven to be one of the most brilliant and admired athletes in Indian cricket, both at the national and international levels. In Paul’s words, it is hardly an exaggeration to claim that Ghosh is “a complete cricketer.”