ICC: The cricketers breaking the bias on International Women’s Day

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Photo Credit: ICC

The first viral moment of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 was a fitting preview for International Women’s Day.

It came as Pakistan and India put their differences aside on Sunday combining to entertain Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof’s young daughter Fatima after their match in Tauranga.

Bismah has made her return to international cricket six months after giving birth, becoming the first Pakistan player to benefit from her nation’s cricket board’s progressive maternity policy.

And England star Tammy Beaumont believes it shows how far the game has come.

She said: “I thought it was amazing. I did actually comment on it, I thought it was incredibly cute.

“Hopefully, I’ll get a cuddle later in the tournament. I think it’s just amazing to see that Bismah has come back so quickly. 

“For me, until probably the last couple of years I didn’t really see it as an option to have a baby, come back and to see the likes of Amy Satterthwaite do it and have a baby on tour and now Bismah doing it and coming back so quickly and performing straightaway. 

“I just think it’s just brilliant to see and particularly for young girls, I look at my teammates retiring at 28 to go and have a family or to have a career and now actually, this is the complete opposite. 

“You can do both and it’s just so good to see that. I think it’s not necessarily been something that’s been done and I don’t think it’s something that’s really been spoken about enough in the past, to see that it’s great. 

“It’s even better that India and Pakistan are showing the amazing spirit of cricket to just create a cricket family for that young baby that’s on tour and she probably won’t remember it but hopefully at the next edition of the World Cup she will, and she’ll be out on the outfield after every game playing.”

In the opening defeat to Australia, Beaumont crossed 3,000 ODI runs for England, joining Charlotte Edwards as one of five England women to reach that milestone.

Beaumont cited Edwards as an inspiration growing up as did teammate and fellow explosive batter Danni Wyatt.

Wyatt said: “Charlotte Edwards was my hero growing up and now I’m lucky enough to say that she’s my coach [at Southern Vipers].

“She’s an absolute legend on and off the pitch and she’s been texting me as well over the last few weeks. She’s one of the top lasses.”

The Women’s Cricket World Cup kicks off a huge two years of women’s sport in New Zealand with the rugby and football World Cups also due to be held in Aotearoa.

Suzie Bates has adorned billboards across New Zealand in the run-up to this tournament, and on her home ground of Dunedin, the opener made 79 not out to get the win over Bangladesh and bring up 1000 50-over World Cup runs, matching fellow White Fern legend Debbie Hockley.

“Playing in Dunedin I’ve been really fortunate with the people I’ve had around me,” Bates said. 

“Sarah Tsukigawa I think was actually watching today – she was my first-ever captain and she was a real inspiration for me about how to lead from the front and so she was someone that was pretty special.

“But I think that whole [World-Cup winning] White Ferns team in 2000, Debbie Hockley in particular, inspired me to want to be a White Fern – so it’s really special to have a World Cup at home 22 years later.”

The Pakistan team are not just inspiring with their story of motherhood, but with the growth of cricket in their country as vice-captain Nida Dar explains.

“When I started – in the very early days in Pakistan it was 25 to 30 girls in Pakistan who were playing at that time,” Nida said.

“But that passion actually builds up and of course, after that, they’ve watched a lot of games of us and we bring a lot of joy for them. 

“If we compare it from then and now, the girls are very interested in Pakistan and especially they want to play cricket, and we inspired them a lot. 

“Now, there is a lot of cricket in Pakistan for girls and a lot of facilities from the PCB, giving a lot of chances for the girls.”

A theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Break the Bias, and the Indian team have done that by opening up about their mental health struggles, and the support offered by team psychologist Dr. Mugdha Bavare.

All-rounder Pooja Vastrakar said: “She has been with us since the England tour and I used to talk with her often. 

“My England tour did not go well, but during the Australia tour, she helped me to gain positivity. 

“When we are angry with ourselves, we have a few questions stuck in our mind.

“We know the answers, but we don’t know the tricks to tackle it, so she helped me to sort out these issues.”

The 2022 World Cup is only six games old and is already smashing records, inspiring millions and continuing to break the bias, making it International Women’s Day every day.

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