By Arsalan Iqtidar Khan
Who would have thought 5 years back that team of girls from Pakistan would go on to beat a team from a country which holds proper domestic circuit down under in New Zealand.
Like every field women are coming forward and showing their skills in cricket. We are still far behind that most of the developed countries but progress can be seen. Pakistan did not only manage to win of the three ODIs in recently concluded series but also came very close in another ODI which could have resulted one of the most shocking series loss in NZ women cricket history.
There is still a long way to go. Women cricket does not have a proper domestic set up which ideally should run yearlong one day and T20 tournaments. The pool of cricketers to choose from is insignificant and most of the players in current squad could straightforwardly consider themselves selected before any major tournament.
This is where responsibilities lies on all educational institutions. Just imagine how well women cricket can evolve in Pakistan if all colleges and universities come up with their own teams competing against each another. The pool of players can be increased quite comfortably and better players can be selected from there. This solution requires least investment and returns are guaranteed.
What could be seen in recently broadcasted series on YouTube and other social media channels is that Pakistan women lacks physical fitness and sheer power to cross the boundary. PCB have world standard facilities available @ NCA. In this time and age providing such facilities to women crickets should be of least concern. At least top 30 players can be conditioned round the year.
Recently concluded ODI series against New Zealand (with T20Is to follow) in UAE is the first of the 7 series that Pakistan women is going to play over the course next 3 years in ICC women’s championship. The top 3 teams along with hosts New Zealand will qualify directly for the ICC Women’s World Cup which is scheduled in year 2021. The remaining 4 teams will be selected via ICC World Cup qualifier tournament.
Unlike men’s cricket, in women cricket there are unified rankings for tests, ODIs and T20Is. Currently Pakistan is ranked way down ay 7th with considerable difference between top 6 and remaining teams in the table. The latest victory against NZ could proof as a cornerstone for women in greens to break into top 6. PCB needs to assure that proper facilities and preferably foreign qualified women coaches are provided to the team. With security situation improving, low profile limited overs series can be arranged against Bangladesh and Srilanka at home where more talented players can be tested.
There is no denying the fact that PCB needs more sponsors to fund the women cricket but for time being profits generated from men’s cricket can be utilized as future investment. With improved performances in sight definitely the interest from sponsors will increase over time.
In countries like Pakistan, best of the talents are lost due to family pressure and social norms. In recent times we have seen encouragement and acknowledgment for women cricketers from all walks of life from political figures to social writers. This is such a fresh breath of air. This will help parents in Pakistan to allow their daughter to take up this game as career.
Considering all factors, the future of women cricket unquestionably looks bright. What needs to be done is to increase the pool of professional players, provide ample facilities and management needs to make sure that women cricketers are paid appropriately so that the sport can be taken as professional career. Success of women cricket will indirectly help in promoting other sports in Pakistan like hockey and football where we lag far behind most of the neighboring countries!