Women cricket in Pakistan could not get the due attention it deserved. On the contrary, it was plagued by scandals and controversies which hampered its growth.
The general perception about Pakistan’s women cricket has been negative. It has never been allowed to run professionally. It is controlled by a certain group of players.
This perception is supported by the evidence that during the past one decade the coaching and support staff was altered but players wielding powers have remained there.
There is a group of players who have been playing at the international level for many years. Since they are the only ones being able to perform at the highest level, they have also been calling the shots.
The selection committee has a pool of only 30 players for selecting an international squad. Of them, only four are performers, while the rest are selected on skill-cum-fitness-cum-fielding basis.
Bisma Maroof, Sana Mir, Javeria Wadood, and Nahida Khan are the nucleus of Pakistan’s women cricket team.
In the current scenario, there are not many options available to the selection committee to develop different combinations and select teams with new players.
However, a few promising players will be permanent part of Pakistan such as Muneeba Ali, Umaima Sohail, Saba Nazir, Rameen Shamim, Fareeha Mahmood, Maham Tariq, Hafsa Khalid, Umaihani, and Waheeda Akhtar.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finally started taking women cricket seriously, which is reflected by their bold decisions as they have appointed people who know the job. One of them is Shahid Aslam, who was attached with Pakistan team for more than eight years. He has been named as the head of Pakistan Women Cricket Wing.
He is known as a hard working person who likes to accept challenges. In a short period, he has prepared a strategic plan of five years for women cricket. There are short-term, mid-term and long-term plans for the women team.
For the short-term programme, the Pakistan women cricket wing has hired the services of following foreign staff: Head Coach Mark Coles (New Zealand), Batting Coach Andy Richard (Australia), and Trainer Jamal Hussain (England). They are all working hard to improve Pakistan women cricket team’s performance.
I, as the Chief Selector of Women Wing, have framed the selection policy and set direction of selection process based on priority-cum-performances. Its implementation has commenced and it will be fully operational in the years to come. Further, it has been suggested that there should be performance standard so that players could be held accountable.
Unveiling the Game Development Strategy for Women Cricket under the Vision 2022 Flagship, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) proudly announces the phase-wise inauguration of Women Cricket Academies and Cricket Centres across Pakistan.
Within the restructured layout, PCB aspires to establish five academies at zonal headquarters.
The PCB also plans to initiate 10 cricket centres in cities surrounding the five zonal headquarters.
The purpose of the establishment of academies and cricket centres is to provide women cricketers a platform to practise and train on a regular basis under the supervision of qualified coaching staff.
In the first stage, academies will be launched in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Peshawar along with one cricket centre in Quetta. The Academy for Karachi will be based at the High Performance Centre.
The Model Town Women Academy will be the hub of cricketing activities and training in Lahore.
Multan Stadium will be the women cricket facility for Multan Zone. Frontier Women College Peshawar ground will be used for KP Zone Women Cricket.
The cricket centre for Quetta will be at Bugti Stadium. The staff for the academies and the centres has been hired.
Age-bracketed Junior Development will also be introduced, under the Vision 2022 Flagship. These include Cric for Us Schools Programme and Skills to Shine Under-17 and Under-23 Development Academy Programmes.
These programmes aim at increasing participation in women cricket by engaging educational institutes and exploring talent in untapped areas. They also aim at ensuring provision of high-quality coaching embedded with elements of skill development and fitness.
To provide an overview on the Game Development academic programs and events, the activities planned to be undertaken during the year 2018-2019 are as follows:
11) Cric for Us Schools’ Programme (10 cities).
2) Indoor Women Cricket Championships in Lahore and Karachi
3) Skills to Shine – Under 17 Academy Programme (5 zones)
4) Skills to Shine – Under 23 Academy Programme (5 zones)
5) Inter Zonal Under 23 Cricket Championship
6) Coaching, Umpiring and Other HR Development Courses
7) Cricket Conferences
For years 2020 to 2022, infrastructure will be developed for women cricket in all five centres.
I am quite optimistic that on the timely completion of the five-year strategic plan, the women cricket in Pakistan will be totally changed in terms of players pool, skills, attitude and money. It may be at par with the women cricket infrastructure in such countries as Australia, England and New Zealand.