It was a slantways entry into becoming a member of the ‘sports-watching’ tradition of Britain, for Shaz, a mom of two pre-teens, who got here to Birmingham as a toddler, however by no means socialised over sport.
“My husband brings the kids to Edgbaston when the men’s teams play. But I wanted to come along too and watch since Pakistan women were playing,” she mentioned of her first journey to a stadium not 10 minutes from her residence, however one she by no means thought-about she’d stroll into, having solely a gentle passing curiosity within the sport.
A girls’s sport wave has been sweeping over England all of this final week, with the soccer group turning into European Women’s champions beating Germany within the remaining. “It’s not like 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 mom, out-numbered at the very least 5 to 1 by Indian households who thronged Edgbaston, together with a bunch who got here down from London to introduce their younger daughters to the game.
That India-Pakistan is pencilled into any massive cricket occasion as a certainty of a pool sport is a given. However, the Commonwealth Games have been banking on a Sunday blockbuster, hoping the ladies’s sport may draw out the big diaspora of Birmingham into the stadium. Not many may predict how shockingly one-sided it will definitely was – the Indian crowds out-screaming Pakistan ones, in the identical method their group dished out a 8-wicket dismissal of Pakistan’s hopes.
Clinical with the ball & splendid with the bat, 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐏𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧 by 8 wickets of their 2nd Commonwealth Games match. 👏 👏
Vice-captain @mandhana_smriti smashes 63*. 🙌 🙌
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/6xtXSkd1O7 #B2022 #StaffIndia #INDvPAK pic.twitter.com/MVUX3yFO4s
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) July 31, 2022
India caught to their bowling plans, after which Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Varma stored it scientific, for a reasonably straightforward win, with an eye fixed on development. Pakistan, with out the concussed Nida Dar, lacked any firepower and received properly rolled over. But for the Games, it was the anticipation of getting bums on seats that this sport held any significance.
Women’s cricket can tease out the ‘family crowds’ – girls and youngsters not at all times keen about cricket, however amazed at younger girls having a go at group sport and turning as much as watch them – and there was no higher metropolis than Birmingham with its ethnic composition to focus on that South Asian base.
Means far more to Pak
Barney, a British Pakistani from Worcestershire, runs an “Asian-only” membership referred to as ‘Kempsey’, the place his daughter performs cricket on a women’ group they’re starting to place collectively. He trekked as much as Birmingham to take cues on how one can develop his girls’s group, alongwith different members of his membership – Hindus and Sikhs as nicely. “In our community, there are several restrictions on women playing sport because of the dress code. But cricket is fully clothed, so it was easier to encourage my daughter to play it. It’s excellent to watch the Pakistan team play and show our girls that this is possible. Sure, little girls have watched men’s teams for years and been fans. But it’s different when they have to start playing. Watching Harmanpreet (Kaur) and (Smrit) Mandhana of India, watching Nida Dar, those are role models,” Barney says.
“We do things together here – Indians and Pakistanis. We socialise, we have colleagues from the other country, we eat together. And of course, we watch cricket together. We can fill up any stadium, so why not for the girls?” he says.
Pakistan received the Asian Games gold in 2010, after which captain and high bowler Sana Mir had mentioned that the gold within the 50-over format made Pakistan realise that ladies may win massive in sport. The follow-up didn’t materialise, however for a nation starved of sportswomen competing on the topmost stage, T20 cricket is the obvious wager for issues to get correctly severe.
📹 From 50/1 to 99 all out, Pakistan’s batting lineup collapsed like a home of playing cards in opposition to #StaffIndia in #CWG2022 🃏💪#INDvPAK #BirminghamMeinJitegaHindustanHamara #B2022 #SonySportsNetwork #SirfSonyPeDikhega pic.twitter.com/kis89f94AF
— Sony Sports Network (@SonySportsNetwk) July 31, 2022
Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai visited the Pak dressing room after their loss to Barbados, and a goodly crowd lingered on to look at each position fashions – in sport and training – from up shut. “Women’s cricket deserves a chance to become a popular sport on its own. I came to the Games only because it was women and India-Pakistan,” says Shaz.
A combat we’ve received: Harman
It may nonetheless want hyphenating with Pakistan in Birmingham and the final cheer of the Games, however the variety of Indian followers who trooped in on Sunday, hoping to catch one other Harman blinder, was great. The Indian captain’s 2017 innings in opposition to Australia within the World Cup semifinal is stuff of legend, however after the win on Sunday, Harman admitted to a different combat girls have received.
“When I started playing cricket, we had no crowds. I knew it is a fight we will have to fight to get people to come in and watch us. It can’t be just because they want to support “women”. We wanted to carry out and entertain, and play good matches and win to draw crowds. Now I can say, we’re doing that,” she would say.
Young women would stroll as much as her and inform her they needed to develop into like her. “It feels nice when they say that we are the reason they want to play cricket,” she says.
While the gang remained partisan, good cricket from both aspect was appreciated. “India or Pakistan, I want my daughter to learn from both. We can’t just have them women cheering from the stands while the men’s teams play. They need to be out there in the centre, hitting big sixes and being cheered.”