By Naila Inayat –
The rising stars of women cricket team deserve more encouragement, more facilities
When Sana Mir and her girls won the Asian Gold for the second time in Incheon Asia once again the women’s cricket team became staring getting the due attention. Many spoke of its consistent performance and compared the lack of facilities provided to the Women Cricket with the Men’s national team.
People started knowing about women’s cricket and everyone started “owning” the women’s team as a nation should. That is something important for the development and promotion of women’s cricket in Pakistan.
The old debate of lack of sponsorship and money that is rolled into men’s cricket also came to front. However, the current Pakistan Cricket Board establishment has played a significant role in the development of women’s cricket. Providing the team with basic facilities and competitive matches in the form of regular regional tournaments is one such thing. While the PCB has got some of the competitions like T20 tournament also televised.
The emphasis has to be laid on making stars out these female players and raise them according to international standards. It is a long way to go. When the team doesn’t get any television coverage, its players are not recognized by the masses such as likes of Afridi or Misbah. Sana Mir is the only familiar name.
The Pakistan Cricket team owes its successful run to captain Sana Mir, who was appointed captain of the national team in 2009. Her first major achievement as a captain came in 2010 when the team won a Gold Medal in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. She is also the most successful captain in the Pakistan women’s domestic circuit. In 2011, she led ZTBL to victory in the national championship in Pakistan, her fourth successive win in the tournament as captain.
With a bowling average of 23.8 in 70 ODIs and 20.7 in 52 T20Is she became the only Pakistani to be in the top 10 of the ICC Women’s ODI rankings for bowlers. Sana is the first Pakistani female cricketer to be honoured with the prestigious Tamgha-e-Imtiaz in 2012 which was later followed by a PCB Woman cricketer of the Year Award in 2013. She candidly says that the “future of her team is really bright.”
“Wherever we go, whichever countries we tour we get positive feedback. This is especially true with the Pakistani communities around the world. They are quite happy because they feel that pressure about Pakistan’s conservative image when they are living outside Pakistan. In a way we show to the world what Pakistan is all about. I think this women’s team has been able to change perceptions of Pakistan and shown that Pakistan is a moderate country. All Pakistanis want is to move forward – they want education, they want women to succeed in all fields which is a beautiful message that we take with us wherever we end up going so we are really happy and honored that we have been able to do that,” said Mir.
In a society like ours, an atmosphere where women have less acceptability to go out of their home even to work both by the society and the family, opting career in sports is a huge challenge. Lately 17-yeqar-old Halima Rafiq committed suicide after being mentally tortured by some of the PCB officials.
The incident raised some sensitive questions about the behavior of officials towards these players. And when it comes to unprofessional and unethical behavior of the coach or the administration, this is highly difficult to survive the pressure and mental stress.
So, what needs to be done is to provide these players enough facilities and encourage them to excel more instead of trapping them with dressing room politics by the coach and team management.
First and the most important thing is the peace of mind for the players and that comes when officials follow professionalism and act on merit. Things seem to work in opposite when it comes to women team.