Bangladesh women cricket team has recently fetched the first ever major international tournament title by claiming the Asia Cup 2018. On the backdrop of our emergence as a cricketing nation, women cricket has remained somewhat neglected. Poor infrastructure, social dogmas and discriminatory salary package are some of the obstacles they had to tackle. Still, they have managed to overturn the perils of road and announced their presence on the international arena. Sadman Sakib Zaman writes about them.
It has been many years since 1997, that, Bangladesh stepped its footprints into the arena of international cricket and became the newest member of the elite panel of the test cricket playing nations in 2000 by defeating Pakistan and Scotland in the 1999 world cup. After that, they have made significant progress in the cricketing world, having defeated all the cricket playing nations more than once and even whitewashing many big names like West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand in the international arena. They eventually have emerged as one of the global rising powers and indeed, a regional powerhouse in cricket. They have proved in each and every aspect that they aren’t a team to be underestimated, thus making cricket the most popular of all the sports in the country and branding us in the entire world with the name of cricket.
Over the years, the men’s team has made some noteworthy performances, especially by reaching the quarter finals of the 2015 world cup and in the round of eight of the 2007 edition, and reaching the semifinals of the ICC champions trophy in 2017, alongside reaching the finals of the Asia cup cricket in two successive occasions.
But this situation was completely different, especially for women, a few years ago, although the men’s team had made remarkable progress. Although cricket is seen as a common, a popular sport throughout the entire country, women’s participation in athletics, games and sports, especially in cricket was a completely new phenomenon.
In a mostly rural society, where most of the people predominantly live in villages and semi urban areas, where people live in societies where women are yet to claim their basic rights, where people give more priority on religious issues, knowing or unknowingly, where people aren’t even aware of the current trends occurring all around the world, the situation and environment isn’t favourable for the participation of women in sports. In the rural areas, women and girls have to face a set of discriminations throughout their lives. They are limited within bounds to nurture the family only and in fact, are not encouraged to participate in sports. Because, the society sees these games as men’s game according to their tradition, so women’s participation in sports is a bizarre matter to them. How can one really expect to promote sports for girls in such a situation?
With the ever increase of globalisation and adapting in every ways with the dynamic world, the country has witnessed participation and leadership of women in each and every aspects. As women empowerment is on the rise, why cricket should be neglected? So with the initiative to promote cricket among the women across the country, to make it as a common and a unisexual game, Bangladesh cricket board has launched the initiative of forming the women’s cricket team, who had played their first one day international against Thailand in 2007 and they won two successive games against them, and within a short period of time, they had received their one day status permanently by 2011.They demonstrated a steady progress since then.
Ever since they had been quietly progressing behind the scenes, beyond any public attention, they gradually come to defeat the big names of cricket like India, South Africa , Pakistan , Sri Lanka at least once and by this time ,they participated twice in the world twenty 20 tournament. Besides, they played three times in the Asia cup women’s tournament. In the 2014 and in the 2016 edition, they finished sixth and fourth respectively out of eight teams.
Tigresses finally made the break in their third edition in 2018 in Malaysia, by defeating six times and defending champions India, which was indeed a miracle to the cricket world, in fact it was a coincidence to many major cricketing nations.
Moreover, fresh from the Asia Cup victory, Bangladesh toured Ireland and defeated their Irish counterparts by 2-1 to claim their first bilateral series win, that too in the tough conditions of Dublin.
To my opinion, everything was not only a miracle, but actually the confidence, the mind spirit, the ability to stay calm in unfavourable situation were some of the biggest secrets behind their success. Besides, the professionalism and maturity they had displayed was beyond expectation, which is really unparallel for the newest permanent members of women’s cricket and indeed a dramatic rise.
Although the tigresses have bagged the first international trophy for Bangladesh cricket and making the nation ever proud in the world of cricket and strengthening our position in the overall cricket arena, it was never an easy job for them to prove themselves against all odds. In a country where women cannot even roam freely and independently and where women are pressurised and dominated by males to look after families, and even where cricket is actually regarded as men’s game. Overcoming all social stereotypes, they have written their name in history.
But the biggest challenge that still remains despite of all progress is the lack of proper infrastructure, proper salary structure for women cricketers, corporate sponsorships and overall the environment for playing cricket and at last, the supply of new cricketers in the pipeline.
The first initiative that needs to be taken is promote cricket for women across the country and to encourage them for cricket by creating a friendly environment, organising national and divisional competitions and to create a systematic practice design including quality coaches and trainers.
Moreover if compared to broadcast rights and sponsorships, they should be given equal priority to that of the male cricketers, along with a respectable match fee. They are somewhat more exceptional then the men, because they are simultaneously managing their homes and glorifying the country, so why should they deserving such discrimination? Recently the cricket board has declared TK 2 crores as bonus and Tk. Ten lakhs for each individual player for their recent phenomenal performances.
As they have brought the first silverware of our cricket history, people really are expecting a lot from them now. Still a long way to go for them though. Hope to see them winning the world cup in the near future.
Sadman Sakib Zaman is a student of University of Dhaka.
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