KARACHI: While Pakistan men’s cricket team is flying high, the same cannot be said about their female counterparts, who recently embarrassed themselves at the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup, losing all seven of their matches, some of them by astonishingly wide margins.
Their abysmal showing could be down to one of two things: they’re either not getting the right training or are just not as talented as their contemporaries. Upon close inspection, it seems more a case of the former.
At the 2009 Women’s World Cup, Pakistan, led by Urooj Mumtaz, were at least competitive, winning two of their five matches. Back then, Sana Mir was the Girls in Green’s ace bowling weapon and Nain Abidi the team’s highest scorer.
Eight years have passed since but not much has changed. Sana, now the skipper, is still relied upon for wickets and Abidi for runs. The team has stood still during this time, while their international peers have gone through rapid progression and cultivated fresh talent, resulting in the wide gap of quality witnessed at the recent tournament.
The team’s visible failure to keep pace with others could be down to the fact that the women’s team doesn’t get the same level of attention or adulation as the men’s team.
For the longest of times, the women’s team training camps used to begin only a couple weeks before major tournaments or tours, whereas the men got to train and practice all year long.
This only changed this year, thanks to the efforts of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Women Wing’s General Manager Shamsa Hashmi, who finally managed to organise long duration camps for the team, although one such instance was never going to make much of an impact.
On top of their training limitations, the team’s World Cup preparations were also dealt a major setback when their coach Kabir Khan was abruptly replaced by Sabih Azhar.
Such a coaching staff upheaval just two months before the big tournament was clearly going to sting, and it did just that as the new coach and his charges clearly struggled for chemistry.
When the team left these shores for England, their target on face was the make the semi-finals but deep down everyone associated with the team must have known that it was nothing more than a pipedream.
Time and time again, the openers failed, the middle-orders collapsed, the bowlers leaked runs after runs, and the fielders did what Pakistani fielders have always done since times immemorial: being generally lackadaisical.
Ahead of the tournament, it was assured that the girls’ fitness was not an issue, but judging by how they fared in the field, it seems this is the biggest issue that needs addressing on their return.
The team management also looked as clueless as the players, not opting to change the batting line-up despite repeated failures of Nahida Khan and Ayesha Zafar at the top.
And a Pakistan cricketing debacle wouldn’t be complete without reports of internal rifts. This was no different as rumour has it that there exist multiple groups within the team.
This women’s team is where the men’s team used to be not so long ago: hapless and dead last. The men were pulled out of those doldrums. The need now is for PCB Chairman Shahryar Khan and company to do the same with the women, starting with a comprehensive review of the team’s performance, development of a long-term plan and followed by effective changes to the team’s structure.