Cricket has once more regain attention in Pakistan as our cricket team made us incredibly proud by winning three matches against India, New Zealand and Afghanistan in the last few weeks. Hopefully there will be more victories to come as people took to the streets at night to celebrate these wins, but one thing could be observed that amidst the celebrations on streets, there was no woman amongst the sea of men.
Cricket has always been considered as a male-dominated sport, since mostly it is men who get the luxury to play the sport in the streets and past late hours which women aren’t allowed to do so. Just a few months ago, Shoaib Akhtar shared a clip of two boys playing cricket in the street and pointed out that it was because Pakistani cricket players had begun playing the sport from the streets which was the reason why they played so successfully in stadiums and abroad. A twitter user then pointed out that this was also the reason why so few women played cricket since they weren’t given the same luxury as men to play in isolated spaces with men and especially after night because of the restrictions imposed on them by family members
so u agree? that the rapid progress in men’s cricket is fueled by street cricket? and that development in women’s cricket in pak is hindered not only bec of administrative issues and negligence but also bec of girls’/women’s exclusion from public spaces n the activities within? https://t.co/zoXanWGiLm
— eman (@exharrie) April 18, 2021
The recent wins by the Pakistani cricket team once more brought this topic to light as men gathered in the street and in the stadiums all night to celebrate and ride around in motorbikes, while women took to Twitter to keep their followers updated with every wicket taken and sixer made, while also grieving that they wanted to participated in the celebration but because of how dangerous the streets have become for Pakistani women, they were unable to do so.
So heartening to see all the men celebrate their hearts out while desi girls had to be home because astaghfaar ye koi time hai ghar se bahir honay ka? 🥲 https://t.co/Lz5wqDxNfH
— اسریٰ (@freakonomist5) October 24, 2021
Women on Twitter have repeatedly expressed their love for the cricket team and have also dedicated their time to track updates on how the match progresses to their followers. Arab news Pakistan’s popular news segment on cricket matches is led by two women twitter users @mahobilli and @bluemagicboxes who have done an excellent job with keeping cricket lovers entertained with their commentaries. Some of the top cricket players in Pakistan include women like Nida Dar who made history as the first cricketer to take a 100 wickets during the T2OI cricket season, yet she has faced horrifying abuse and insults by male hosts over the fact that she “looks like a man” which proves that we have a long way to go before accepting that women have the right to claim public spaces and also enjoy cricket like men do.
Public spaces in Pakistan have always been a hostile space for women, where they have to prepare in advance to explore because of how circumstances recently have become even more hostile. It was after the motorway rape incident when more women began sharing snippets of how they had began purchasing pepper sprays and tasers, and were planning their outings to ensure a man was included so they may come back safely. Even on Independence Day, women were once again reminded that they didn’t even have a day to themselves to roam around in parks with their friends and make tiktoks because they were always under the predatory gaze of the men around them. So now when a national sport suddenly regains public interest and people are taking to the streets to express their love for cricket, it is disheartening to see how some of the most avid fans of the team and the sport cannot express their love the same way without keeping their safety in mind. As the season progresses with more matches coming up, there will be prayers that our cricket team precedes towards the finals, so let’s also hope that women are also present at every step of the way in stadiums and parks as well as the streets where they are openly celebrating the sport.