It was a slanted admission to join Britain’s ‘sport-watching’ culture for Shaz, a mother of two pre-teens who had come to Birmingham as a child but never socialized over sports.
“My husband brings the kids to Edgbaston when the men’s teams play. But I also wanted to come along and see the women of Pakistan playing,” she said of her first visit to the stadium, 10 minutes from her home, but never thought she would be able to walk, In which there was only little interest in the game.
Women’s game wave swept across England last week, with the soccer team defeating Germany in the final to become European women’s champions. “Not that anyone stopped me. But I never felt like watching men’s cricket. But Indian women vs Pakistan women I didn’t want to miss at all,” says the mother, the least number of Indian families in Edgbaston Five is one, including a herd who came from London to introduce their young daughters to the game.
India-Pakistan have been included in any major cricket event as a certainty of the pool game. While the Commonwealth Games were banking on Sunday’s blockbuster, hopes the women’s game could draw Birmingham’s big diaspora into the stadium. Not many could have guessed how shockingly one-sided it was after all – the Indian crowd shouted to Pakistan, the same way their team rejected Pakistan’s hopes by 8 wickets.
Clinical with the ball and brilliant with the bat, by 8 wickets in his second Commonwealth Games match. I
vice captain @mandana_smriti smash 63*. I
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 31 July 2022
India stuck to their bowling plans, and then Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma kept it clinical for a fairly easy win, keeping an eye on the progress. Pakistan, without Nida Dar, lacked any firepower and rolled well. But for the Games, the anticipation of the boom in seats was that the game had any significance.
Women’s cricket can stir up the ‘family crowd’ – women and children are not always impressed by cricket, but teams are amazed to see young women going to the game and coming to see them – and no city better than Birmingham to target that South Asian base with its ethnic composition.
means a lot to Pakistan
Barney, a British Pakistani from Worcestershire, runs an “Asian only” club called ‘Kempsey’, where his daughter plays cricket on the girls’ team they are starting to put together. She along with other members of her club – Hindus and Sikhs – trekked to Birmingham to take cues on how to develop her women’s team. “In our community, there are many restrictions on women playing sports because of the dress code. But the cricket is fully clothed, so it was easy to encourage my daughter to play it. It’s wonderful to see the Pakistan team play and show our girls that it is possible. Sure, little girls have watched men’s teams for years and have been fans. But it is a different matter when they have to start playing. Watching Harmanpreet (Kaur) and (Smriti) Mandhana of India, watching Nida Dar, they are role models,” says Barney.
“We work together here – Indians and Pakistanis. We socialize, we have colleagues from other countries, we eat together. And yes, we watch cricket together. We can fill any stadium, So why not for girls?” He says.
Pakistan won the Asian Games gold in 2010, and then captain and top bowler Sana Mir said that gold in the 50-over format made Pakistan realize that women can win big in the game. Follow-up didn’t happen, but for a country hungry for players competing at the top level, T20 cricket is the most obvious bet for things to get properly serious.
All out from 50/1 to 99, Pakistan’s batting lineup collapsed like a deck of cards #teamindia In #CWG2022 I#INDvPAK #BirminghamMeinJitegaHindustanHamara I #B2022 #sonysportsnetwork #SirfSonyPeDikhega pic.twitter.com/kis89f94AF
— Sony Sports Network (@SonySportsNetwk) 31 July 2022
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai visited the culinary dressing room after losing to Barbados, and a good crowd turned up to take a closer look at both role models – in sports and education. “Women’s cricket should get a chance to become a popular sport in itself. I got into the Games only because it was women and India-Pakistan,” says Shaz.
A battle we have won: Harman
It may still require hyphenation and the general excitement of games with Pakistan in Birmingham, but Indian fans were overwhelmingly in hopes of catching another Hermann Blinder on Sunday. The Indian captain’s 2017 innings against Australia in the World Cup semi-final is the stuff of legend, but after the win on Sunday, Harman admitted in yet another fight that the women had won.
“When I started playing cricket, we didn’t have a crowd. I knew this was a battle we would have to fight to get people to come in and see us. It can’t be just because they want to support “women”. We needed to perform and entertain to attract the crowd and play and win good matches. Now I can say, we are doing that,” she would say.
Young girls would go up to him and tell him that they wanted to be like him. “It’s nice when they say we are the reason they want to play cricket,” she says.
While the crowd remained partisan, good cricket was applauded from both sides. “Be it India or Pakistan, I want my daughter to learn from both. When men’s teams play, we can’t call them women cheering from the stands. He needs to hit big sixes and stay out in the center to be happy. ,