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Devine and Rodrigues call for innovations in women's cricket

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine and India batter Jemimah Rodrigues would like to see more innovations in women’s cricket to help the sport gain more popularity. The players discussed various innovations during a webinar organized by the ICC on Wednesday.

“I think if we are stuck with traditional formats, we’d be missing out on a lot of new players, new kids, new athletes to the game,” Devine said. “So, I think it’s really an exciting idea to say that we might be able to encourage people along that make it tailored towards the female side of things.”

Devine, who was the top run-getter for New Zealand at this year’s Women’s T20 World Cup, believes the introduction of a smaller cricket ball could change the dynamics of the women’s game. “It’s always good to have a little trial and error and see what works,” Devine said.

“I’m probably a big fan of looking at a smaller ball, but keeping the pitch the same size, where I think pacers are going to be able to bowl quicker, spinners are going be able to turn the ball more. Hopefully, the ball should fly a bit further as well whereas still keeping the traditional length of the pitch.”

In contrast, Rodrigues supported the idea of having a shorter pitch if it could bring in more fans and see more competitive matches among women teams. “If that is going to help the game improve and take it to the next level, then why not? You know, kind of get a thought to it, think about it, because at the end of it, we want to promote the game," she said.

"We want to get more people to watch the game and more people to even join the game. So, yeah, I think it is a good idea. I think, you know, you can be open to it.” Devine was only 17 years old when she was selected for New Zealand in 2006 and has played 105 ODIs and 91 Twenty20s. She was appointed captain in January.

Rodrigues was one of the four teenagers who represented India at this year’s T20 World Cup. She has kept herself busy during lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic by starting a YouTube chat show called ‘Double Trouble’ with team-mate Smriti Mandhana.

Both cricketers welcomed the idea of having a Twenty20 event for women at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. “World Cup is the ultimate but there’s something different about an Olympic or a Commonwealth Games,” Rodrigues said.

“Whenever I used to see the Olympics going on I used to say when will I get the opportunity and at that time I didn’t know whether it would be cricket or hockey. I used to always dream of having something like that and wearing that medal so I think this is very exciting for me and I’m super excited for it.”

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