ONCE again, Pakistan’s women cricketers failed to make an impression.
Ranked eighth among the 10 participating teams at the ICC World T20 being played in the West Indies, they bowed out of the race after losing back-to-back opening games against Australia and arch rivals India, while the match with New Zealand sealed their fate.
Pakistan’s sole victory against the last-ranked Ireland, that enabled them to qualify for the next World T20, was the only high point, besides half-centuries by skipper Javeria Khan, Bismah Maroof and Nida Rashid.
Harsh as it may seem, the fact remains that during the past three to four years, the plummeting graph of teams such as Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ireland makes it abundantly clear that their respective boards have hardly invested women’s cricket, thus not allowing it to make an impact at the international level.
Indeed, it is hard to ignore the lack of resources and support for the women players here, compared to the men’s teams.
Each time the women’s team plays, it’s a battle for survival rather than a case of carving a niche.
Of course, breaking societal boundaries is a huge hurdle that they must cross to compete in the first place.
Subsequently, the heavy odds that confront them include a lack of training and playing facilities, infrequent tours, poor media coverage and far fewer sponsors compared to men’s cricket.
It is little surprise, therefore, that despite having featured in their fourth ICC World T20, Pakistan’s women cricketers are struggling to rise above the amateur level.
Against this depressing backdrop, even to qualify for an international tournament or the World Cup is an achievement for women cricketers.
Thankfully, the Pakistan Cricket Board of late has demonstrated its intent to elevate the status of women cricketers by handing out central contracts to nearly two dozen players and organising tours to Australia and Bangladesh.
However, a year-round schedule of top-level training and international matches needs to be put in place for the women to be at par with the leading international teams.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018