By Waqas Naeem Published: May 26, 2014
At the base of the Margalla Hills on Sunday, cricket was a lady’s game.
The Pakistan national women’s cricket team and women from foreign missions in Islamabad played a friendly match at the Saidpur Cricket Ground.
The match was organised by Roots Millennium Schools with support from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Australian High Commission.
In a mix-and-balance team arrangement typical of street cricket, the professionals and diplomats formed two mixed teams for the match.
Team Blue, led by Susan Heyword, the wife of the Australian high commissioner, batted first and finished their 15-over innings with a score of 104/3. In reply, Team Green, wearing the Pakistan women’s cricket team’s colours, only managed to score 75.
Pakistani cricketer Javeria Khan scored 49 runs for Team Blue and won the player of the match award.
The event was attended by members of the foreign diplomatic community, Islamabad residents and students of Mashal Model School, a charity school in Bari Imam that works to educate street children.
Faisal Mushtaq, chief executive officer of Roots Millennium Schools, said Roots was supporting and facilitating the effort by the PCB to have a series of cricket matches involving foreign diplomats.
Mushtaq said that on one hand, these cricket matches were attempts to get the diplomatic community to integrate, while on the other, they also avow Pakistan’s pledge to revive international sports in the country.
Former Pakistan captain and PCB Director Intikhab Alam said Australian High Commissioner Peter Heyward and his wife were keen followers of the game, adding that the PCB appreciates the diplomatic community’s support in such matches.
Alam said it was very difficult to say when international cricket will return to Pakistan beyond an optimistic, “soon”. People are changing their attitude towards us and we are having talks with Sri Lanka and India to tour Pakistan,” Alam said.
Australian High Commissioner Heyward said the women’s cricket match was an opportunity to show schoolgirls in the audience that cricket was a fun and healthy activity. He said the match could inspire aspiring young female cricketers to play professionally in the future.
One such aspiring cricketer from Mashal Model School was Sakina Bibi, who was picked up by Susan Heyword to play for Team Blue.
Bibi, 13, said she was the captain of the Mashal girls’ cricket team. “I am an all-rounder,” she said, adding that she wanted to play professional cricket.
Zeba Husain The school’s founder and principal, said Sakina’s cricketing skills impressed the Australian high commissioner and his wife when they recently visited the school.
“Sakina helps her father at his vegetable shop and plays amazing cricket,” Husain said. “Give them the opportunity and these children can rise to new heights.”
Head of the PCB’s Women Wing Bushra Aitzaz encouraged the girls to think about representing Pakistan through cricket. “You have the potential to be the professional cricketers of tomorrow,” Aitzaz told the girls.
Heyward said the Pakistan national women’s cricket team was all set to tour Australia in August, which will be a great opportunity for Pakistani cricketers to test their mettle as Australia was the reigning world champion in women’s cricket.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2014.