Politics, miseries in Pakistan women’s cricket: former skipper Shaiza Khan tells it all

Shaiza Khan

Shaiza Khan, the first ever Pakistan women’s team captain, expressed her frustration on Girls in Green’s disastrous run in the World Cup where they failed to win a single game. In fact, they showed almost no fight against any team. Talking to ARY News, Shaiza told recalled when they played their first World Cup in 1997 in India, they also had a similar performance, but at that time they were introducing women cricket. “We played our first world cup in India in 1997, we too lost all of our matches, but the difference was that we had eight debutantes in our team, we had hardly two ODIs under our belt,” she told. “The Chief Minister said at the opening ceremony, ‘Pakistan has won by being here’,” she added.

She termed it a failure of the system that after so long, Pakistan is nowhere in women’s game, whereas, they should have been among top four teams of the world by now. “In that world cup, England scored 270 something against us, they had a solid team and we were inexperienced at that time. But twenty years down the road after PCB took over the women cricket from Pakistan Women Cricket Association, England still beat Pakistan in a similar fashion,” she went on to say.

Shaiza, who introduced women’s cricket in Pakistan with the help of sister and father, criticised the current team for not performing at the highest level even after playing more than hundred games and exposure of more than ten years. “These women have played more than 100 matches, they are playing since the last 10-15 years with better facilities and different coaches,” she said. She pointed out the problem that the people running women cricket have no idea about it. “They do not understand women cricket, they do not have the experience, it is a totally different ball game,” she shared.

Pakistan had poor batting performances throughout the tournament. They were decent at times with the ball, but they were usually miserable with the bat. Scoring 250 runs is a norm in women cricket now, but Pakistani batters could only reach 206 runs in the tournament. They had a decent day with the ball against India as they restricted them to 169/9, but they failed awfully in chasing the small total as they got allout on just 74 runs. Nahida Khan stood as the highest scorer of the team with just 173 runs to her name in seven outings. She managed an average of 24.71 at a strike-rate of 63.60. The second highest scorer was Sana Mir with 153 runs in five innings.

Shaiza Khan feels that people handling women’s cricket affairs in the country are not loyal to their jobs that is why the game is struggling severely. They played a handful of games under Mehmood Rasheed, but piled up records that are still unbeatable. “No one wants to teach them cricket,” Shaiza Khan said. “We had Mehmood Rasheed as our coach, he created history with us. We played a handful of games under him, but we had Batool Fatima the wicketkeeper who equaled world record, we had Sajida Shah who still holds the record of most wickets in an ODI inning, we had Kiran Baluch who is still the highest scorer in a Test inning, then I myself hold a record for most wickets in a Test match,” she told.

Shaiza Khan said that in her days, there were individual players, who wanted to prove something. Sajida Shah was not allowed to tour with the team by her family, so she starved for a week to convince them. That is what the commitment at that time was. Shaiza fails to see any such effort or intention in the current lot of women players.

Shaiza Khan shared that they were the ones who ran cricket in the country, they paid expenses from their own pockets, her father promoted the game because it held Pakistan flag fly high at the international stage. But when IWCC started to give funds for development of women cricket after getting merged with the ICC, then the board jumped in like a so-called saviour. “It is fine that they took over (women cricket), but they just ruined it,” she stated.

She has lost hope of serving Pakistan cricket anymore, she believes that he along with legendary players like Kiran Baloch cannot help the cause. “We cannot do anything, we took the most important first step, now they have all the resources, so they should promote it. We cannot go to them just to get humiliated,” Shaiza Khan further said.

Shaiza Khan believes that there is no merit in women’s cricket at the moment. In fact, she revealed that Urooj Mumtaz and Sana Mir deceived her to overcome her. She is a big critique of the current captain of Pakistan. Sana Mir became the first Pakistani woman cricketer to play hundred ODIs, but Shaiza refused to comment on her achievement. “I have no comments for her and I have no respect for her,” she said. “This is not the way she should have taken women cricket forward.”

Shaiza wants the board to respect women cricketers of the country. She got sad when she saw that no one from PCB went to the airport to pick the World Cup squad from the airport. “They treat women cricketers like a second-grade citizen, they send them to Muridke for training, whereas we used to practice at the National Stadium,” she told. “I saw the news last night, it was so saddening to see that no one from PCB went to pick girls from airport. They wear Pakistan’s blazers and it should be respected, it should be the top priority. Poor girls rode bikes with their kit bag, it was heartbreaking.”

To promote cricket in the country, the board should rope in experienced people like Mehmood Rasheed who have worked with the women team. Moreover, players should be given respect. “If you really want to promote women’s cricket, respect it first,” she suggested. “Make them play at the same place where men’s teams play, give them the similar protocol, bring them par to men cricketers.”

The former cricketer expressed her fear that if issues are handled in the same manner, the situation women cricket in the country will only get worse. “I am afraid that they played world cup this time, they might not even qualify for the next one,” she concluded.