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There is no doubt that Pakistan is a cricket-loving nation. At times it seems that the game of bat and ball is our only source of happiness. Take the example of the T20I World Cup, which came at a time when the entire nation was drowning under a pile of bad news. It was Babar Azam and his men who showed light at the end of the tunnel.
But do we carry the same optimism for Pakistan Women cricket as are other countries? Do we keep a tally of their achievements? Are our neurons as stimulated as they are when the opposite-gendered team is on tour? The answer could be affirmative for other cricketing countries, but undoubtedly not true for Pakistani women cricketers.
Let us take a look at some of the reasons why women’s cricket in Pakistan is always side-lined, hindered and ignored.
A certain belief system is prevalent in society that enables people to believe that women should not be part of sports. Women are more appreciated when they are involved in home-bound activities rather than outdoors and are expected to stay away from activities that revolve around running.
While boys, still in their wee years, are gifted bats and balls to encourage them to play cricket, it is quite the opposite for little girls. Women cricketers in Pakistan have to suffer from the word go since they are never heartened to play sports, let alone cricket.
Recently Bisma Amjad, a Pakistan women cricketer, opened about her struggles to practice in Covid-19 lockdown. Since a fraction of people frowned upon women playing in the open, she had to chop her hair off just so she could play with the boys in the street.
Contrary to this, sports do not see gender, especially in Western cricketing nations. Even the Indian side sees an influx of young girls and cricketers waging towards cricket.
Pakistani Women Cricketers, Under Facilitated, Underpaid
Yes, you heard it right. When young girls and women finally break into the cricket circuit, they are pushed back by a lack of incentives.
Their pay scale is not even close to that of men’s, and most of the energy and sources are spent on raising the bar in men’s cricket.
In 2018, Bisma Maroof, the then captain of the Pakistan women’s team, said she was in talks with Pakistan Cricket Board to narrow the pay gap between male and female players.
She also mentioned how females are just given daily allowance instead of match fees. In 2020 however, the pay scale of women cricketers was increased. However, it would take great nerves to even start comparing the salaries of Pakistan women cricketers with female counterparts of India, Australia. New Zealand and England.
No Space to Broadcast Women Cricket
Pakistan women’s cricket is perhaps the least advertised, let alone broadcast. Not many times our girl’s side go out of the country to play and rarely do international side tours, but if something of the sort happens, nobody gets to see it.
Except for the official PCB page, no other source cares about promoting the tours. There is no information regarding the tickets, no TV channel creates hype, and no one bothers putting up a single banner.
The official National Sports Channels would rather telecast a match from the 1970s but would dare not get the broadcasting rights. This gravely affects the female sport, especially when a faction doesn’t even know it exists.
The Women T20I World Cup 2020 final, which took place in Melbourne, was jam-packed with people supporting their national side. Australia won the final among their home crowd’s cheer, claps, and praises.
Security Issues Means Fewer Tours
The 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team hindered and blocked all pathways of international cricket. The little attention Pakistan women cricket was getting was severely halted. No one wanted to tour Pakistan regardless of the gender of the playing team.
The only two teams that toured were Bangladesh and West Indies that too under strict security scrutiny. The matches saw zero crowd attendance and no formal advertisements. In October last year, the English women were to visit the national side, which was called off over security concerns.
The repercussions of these hindrances are that our girls in green haven’t very many names in the top records. But these can be overcome and removed for women’s cricket to gain recognition; more resources, energy, and publicity need to be put in. PCB should encourage more international tours that involve national and international broadcasters.
The upcoming Women T20I World Cup in March of this year is a massive opportunity for skipper Javeria Khan and co to change the label of Pakistan women’s cricket. Their consistent performance can change perspectives and pave the way for young girls to enroll in the sport. It can invite more prominent sponsors and stakeholders. Let us hope our side does well and change their fate.