THE women cricket team’s brilliant ODI series win over the West Indies has earned the players well-deserved admiration. The win, achieved against more skilled opponents ranked ahead of Pakistan in the ICC women’s rankings, has not only helped the women in green to grow in confidence, it is also likely to strengthen their chances of qualifying directly for the 2021 World Cup. The best part of the series was the consistent performances turned in by the team’s ace players including Sana Mir, Javeria Khan, Sidra Amin, Diana Beg and Nida Dar, all of whom batted and bowled superbly to keep the rivals at bay. More significantly, the victory has helped the women’s team leapfrog more experienced outfits like Australia, England and the West Indies to be at par with India at 12 points in the ongoing ICC Women’s Championship.
Unlike the men’s team, that enjoys a revered status, the members of the national women’s team are often seen struggling at the international level, exhibiting little vigour and bowing out of tournaments with unsatisfactory results. Their last-placed finish in the previous World Cup in 2017 in England, where they lost all their matches, brought them public ire while critics predicted a dark future for them. However, saner observers have long called for more support and exposure for the team, and the PCB is now taking note of this advice. The results are there for everyone to see. More matches against leading teams such as Australia and Bangladesh last year, better emoluments, qualified foreign coaches and the issuance of central contracts have buoyed the performance of the team which also won the last T20 in Karachi in style before accomplishing the ODI win in the UAE. There is, of course, a lot more the PCB needs to do to ensure a bright future for the women’s team. Facilities at the grass-roots level, dedicated playing grounds and coaches, regular national-level tournaments and a group of sponsors are bound to take women’s cricket in Pakistan to new heights.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2019