Ashraf Ali Siddiqui talks about an emerging phenomenon
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) showed its enthusiasm for women’s cricket in Pakistan. PCB announced that it was planning to introduce women’s franchise league in the footsteps of PSL franchise that has attracted tremendous traction and is widely popular. The franchise did emerge in October last year and it was made known that in March 2023 a four-team event was planned to run alongside the Pakistan Super League and would continue in the same pattern. However, what took place last year was the change in the leadership of PCB that consequently led to a change of plans and came as a blow to the prospects of female cricket in Pakistan. It was known that three women’s exhibition matches were set to be played in March with the league slated for later this year but even if the Women’s League had begun according to the original schedule, it would very likely have been trumped by India’s Women’s Premier League. To the chagrin of cricket lovers, the women’s version of the Indian Premier League has already begun that already served as the model for Pakistani venture.
What is noted here is that Pakistan’s women cricketers of course are missing out but the exhibition matches slated for 8, 10, and 11 March that were known to see 10 foreign players, including South Africa’s Laura Woldvaart — one of the stars of the team’s run to the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup last month. The contingent of foreign players, divided into two teams, also included Chamari Athapaththu and Laura Delany, who captained Sri Lanka and Ireland respectively at the World Cup.
It must be borne in mind that Pakistan put a dismal performance at the T20 World Cup, winning just one out of four matches clearly indicating that women’s cricket is in dire need of revamping and rejuvenating and this is precisely the time to do it. The current situation is that long-serving skipper Bismah Maroof has stepped down calling for a new leader ahead of the next cycle of events. The downward trend in women’s cricket in Pakistan does not augur well for its chances in the World Cup. The prevailing confusion in this respect may cause long term harm to the prospects of women’s cricket in Pakistan. What is needed is to promote Pakistani players, raise their profile and arrange more finances so that the standard of the game comes to a competitive level. TW