New Delhi: Vrinda Rathi, J Narayanan and Gayathri Venugopalan on Tuesday became the first women officials to make their debut in the prestigious Ranji Trophy cricket tournament. These are former scorers, former software engineers and former players.
Gayathri Venugopalan is officiating in Jamshedpur between Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh while Narayanan is officiating Railways vs Tripura in Surat and Rathi in Porvorim for Goa vs Puducherry. All three are distinguished officials in women’s competitions and the decision of the Board of Cricket in India (BCCI) to allow women umpires in men’s domestic competitions has given them an opportunity to officiate in Ranji Trophy.
Janani Narayanan is 36 years old and loves cricket and everything related to it. She wanted to take the field and even approached the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) on a few occasions to become an umpire. A few years later, the state body changed its rules to allow women to officiate, following which Narayanan cleared the BCCI’s Level 2 umpiring exam in 2018 and quit her job in the IT sector to take up umpiring.
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She has also played the role of official in Tamil Nadu Premier League in 2021. On the other hand, 32-year-old Rathi used to score in local matches in Mumbai. He passed the scorer’s exam of BCCI. She was the official scorer of the BCCI in the 2013 Women’s World Cup. After that she joined umpiring. Narayanan and Rathi are experienced umpires and the International Cricket Council included them in the panel of development umpires in 2020. Delhi’s 43-year-old Venugopalan had dreamed of becoming a cricketer but a shoulder injury broke her dream.
He started umpiring in 2019 after passing the BCCI exam. She has already officiated as a reserve umpire (fourth umpire) in Ranji Trophy. The BCCI is far behind in terms of women umpiring as they are already officiating in men’s cricket in Australia and England. Of the 150 umpires registered with the BCCI, only three are women. (agency)