Cricket Australia’s (CA) new policy of encouraging pregnant woman cricketers will surely get a thumbs-up from their Indian counterparts, some of whom have continued to play the game even after becoming mothers.
While motherhood usually signals the end of a woman’s sports career, Indian woman cricketers Neha Tanwar and Babita Mandlik continue to passionately pursue the game.
As per the new policy, women players who give birth or adopt can take up to 12 months of paid parental leave. It will also support them through pregnancy, adoption, their return to play and parental responsibilities.
Indian cricketers Neha Tanwar and Babita Mandlik — two of the very few woman cricketers who have continued to play the game after giving birth to a child — have only words of praise. “I strongly favour this policy for Indian woman cricketers as well, as they will have support to carry out their personal and professional obligations and duties. No doubt, the mindset of our society has changed a lot, but we still have miles to go. Even now, people do not accept or support married women in sports,” says Neha, who adds, “Women have great potential and such support can definitely raise the level of our game. These decisions will also encourage people to change their mindset towards sportswomen who make a comeback after having a baby.” Mother of a five-year-old son, Neha says that although she mulled over the prospect of giving up her game for good, she found it very challenging to give up her routine and discipline of so many years.
“While becoming a mother changes one’s priorities, I am still passionate about cricket. When I decided to play again, my husband and parents stood by my decision. Thanks to them, I was able to catch my dreams again,” expresses Neha, who did come back for the India ‘A’ Team, Delhi senior women’s team, North Zone women’s cricket team, and also Indian women’s Challenger Trophy. “My dream of playing for the Indian cricket team is still alive and kicking,” she says with a smile.
Meanwhile, Babita Mandlik, cricketer and mother of a four-year-old daughter is also equally passionate. “I was 72 kg when I gave birth to my child but am now concentrating on my fitness because I want to start playing cricket again,” she says. Babita, who is captain of the Madhya Pradesh women’s cricket team, adds, “It was my mother who encouraged me to take to this game and my in-laws after marriage. They never stopped me from playing cricket. In fact, they take care of my daughter whenever I go for practice.”