Remembering Diana Edulji: Pioneering Indian Woman Cricketer

By: Bharathi Monika Venkatesan, Correspondent

Diana Edulji, the trailblazing former captain of the Indian women's cricket team, has etched her name in history as the first Indian woman cricketer to enter the ICC Hall of Fame. A pioneer on and off the field, here’s a look at Diana 's journey which has been marked by leadership, advocacy for women's cricket rights, and mentorship, making her an enduring icon.

Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game. However, many a woman have graced the game with their superior game-play and spirit. Former Indian women's cricket team captain Diana Edulji is one such name.

The pioneering Indian female cricketer has recently made history by becoming the first Indian woman cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. She joins the legendary Virender Sehwag and Aravinda de Silva, who were also honoured by the ICC for their stellar achievements in the game.

She has been inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame as the 111th member and the first Indian woman cricketer to receive this honour. She joins the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, and Sunil Gavaskar, who are the other Indian cricketers in the Hall of Fame.

Diana Edulji, an indomitable force in the annals of women's cricket globally and in India, remains an enduring icon who shattered barriers and defied stereotypes. Her legacy, etched in passion and courage, transcends mere statistics.

Jhulan’s Emotional Tribute to the Legend

Jhulan Goswami, the former India pacer and the highest wicket-taker in women's ODIs, paid rich tributes to Edulji in an open letter following her induction into the ICC Hall of Fame. She hailed Edulji as a pioneer for women's cricket in India and thanked her for everything she has done for the game.

She wrote, "It is an absolute honour for you, but also a very proud moment for women's cricket in our country and a proud moment for India as a whole, that you are being inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. It is so well-deserved; you have been a pioneer for women's cricket in our country. Your contributions over the years have been immense. It is not too much to say that the game would not be where it is in India without all your efforts."

She also expressed her regret for not playing against Edulji and shared her admiration for her as a player, a leader, and a mentor. She concluded by saying, "Diana, I am thrilled that you are being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I just want to say thank you for everything you have done for cricket in our country."

Jhulan’s emotional tribute to Diana highlights why the trailblazing cricketer’s induction in the ICC Hall of Fame is a cause for celebration for the whole of India.

Who is Diana Edulji?

Diana started playing cricket at a time when the sport was not popular among women in India. As a young girl, she took on the boys in Badhwar Park, where her father, an officer in Western Railway, had been allotted quarters. She joined the Indian Railways women's team in 1975 and became the captain in 1978.

She made her international debut in 1976 and went on to play 20 Tests and 34 ODIs in a career that spanned across three decades. A left-arm spinner, she took 107 wickets across formats and scored 1624 runs in Tests and 775 runs in ODIs.

She led India to their first Test series win against England in 1986 and also captained India in the 1982 and 1988 Women's World Cups. She retired from international cricket in 1993 as the highest wicket-taker in women's Tests.

Women's Cricket Rights Activist

Diana did not stop at playing cricket, she also fought for the rights and recognition of women cricketers in India. She was instrumental in creating employment opportunities for female cricketers in India by convincing the Indian Railways to recruit them as officers.

She also advocated for equal pay and benefits for women cricketers and challenged the discrimination and bias they faced from the male-dominated cricket administration. She was one of the founding members of the Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) and served as its secretary and vice president.

Diana represented India in the International Women's Cricket Council (IWCC) and played a key role in organising the 1997 Women's World Cup in India.

Beloved Leader & Mentor

Diana has been a leader and a mentor for many women cricketers in India. She was one of the national selectors when Jhulan Goswami made her debut for India in 2002 and gave her valuable advice and guidance throughout her career.

She also mentored other players like Mithali Raj, Anjum Chopra, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Smriti Mandhana and helped them grow as cricketers and individuals. She was always approachable and supportive and shared her experience and wisdom with the younger generation. She also inspired many girls and women to take up cricket as a profession and a passion.

Diana has been a role model and a legend for women's cricket in India and the world. She has received many accolades and awards for her achievements, such as the Arjuna Award in 1983, the Padma Shri in 2002, and the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. She has also been featured in several books and documentaries on women's cricket.

A trailblazer deserving of recognition, Edulji's name resonates with the essence of the game, making her a compelling candidate for induction into the prestigious ICC Hall of Fame.