Women on the field
If the women of Pakistan do anything that has any semblance of normalcy, it is considered a miracle by feminists and a profanity by fundamentalists. Each step is either towards progress or religious sacrilege. The same conditioning came into play when Pakistan’s Women’s cricket team became an established entity in the 1990s. Amid death threats, salutations and scandals, the team has been growing and has come a long way. From being forbidden to participate in international cricket by the government in 1997 on the basis of their gender to playing and winning the gold medal in the Asian Games in 2010, the girls have been brave to say the least. The incumbent President Mr. Zardari, in response to the Asian Games victory, declared the gold medal a gift to the nation on a verge of crisis. Recently 2013 in a national Twenty-20 tournament, even men were allowed to watch the matches live inside the stadium, something that was restricted in the past. Luckily the team performed exceptionally in the midst of heavy security and took the trophy named after Benazir Bhutto.
The captain of the team, Sana Mir, is a young girl from Abottabad, the city where Osama Bin Laden was ambushed and killed. She is currently one of the twenty best one day international bowlers in the world and the only Pakistani to boast of this achievement. Under her captaincy, the team qualified for 2013 women’s one day international (ODI) world cup and went to India to play in the middle of protests in the host country over unfortunate killings on the Line of Control. The team was confined to the club house of the stadium in the first round of the tournament due to security concerns. Although they ranked eighth (a drop from 6th in 2009), the fact that they continue to play the game gives hope- for women and for peace.
Considering that the first international women’s cricket match was played in 1934, the Pakistani team is still very new to this game and has yet to accomplish enough to be adored by avid cricket fans. Whenever Pakistan is playing, the men that is, people at home, offices, restaurants are glued to the television. That is the not the case with women’s cricket. The women have yet to gain the respect of followers and I sincerely hope they eventually do-not on the basis of their gender but on the basis of their talent and skills.
One measure of indigenous popularity and success for any celebrity is sponsorships. Television commercials in Pakistan are inundated with “stars” as brand ambassadors vouching for various brands in multiple categories. Since cricket is one platform besides religion that brings the entire nation together, it seems inevitable to have cricketers endorsing these products. Our male cricketers are successfully selling everything from shampoos to mobile phones, detergents to carbonated drinks. Whether it is Shahid Afridi waving his trimmed tresses after using a certain shampoo or the very tall Mohammad Irfan acting extremely dumb to get to a bottle of cola, we see these stars on television and billboards everywhere. On the other hand, women in our ads are still either cooking or trying to whiten their skin so they can find the perfect man. None of these women are cricketers.
Author: Soofia Says
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Date18.12.2013 | 10:23