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An Interview with Urooj Mumtaz (Pakistan Women's Captain)

Discussion in 'Cricket Talk' started by Mercenary, Dec 28, 2009.

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  1. Mercenary

    Mercenary The Lone Wolf

    Dec 17, 2009
    An Interview with Urooj Mumtaz, the Pakistan Women's Captain

    by Abdul Habib
    26th April 2008

    Urooj Mumtaz is the 'other' Pakistan Cricket Captain, she leads the women's team and below is her story.


    Abdul Habib: Who were your role models in cricket?

    Urooj Mumtaz: If I idolised anybody then it was Jonty Rhodes because I'm very passionate about my fielding

    Abdul Habib: Who would your role models be in sport in general?

    Urooj Mumtaz: That's a tough one, there's so many. I've always liked Michael Schumacher and Roger Federer, they're so famous yet they still seem like such down to earth people.

    Abdul Habib: And what about in life?

    Urooj Mumtaz: My mum because she's the best mum in the whole wide world. She does a lot of charity work, is a full-time dentist and a full-time mum too. I have no idea how she manages all three. I've followed her choice in career and I'm not far off from qualifying as a dentist myself, the amount of support she's given me in both my sports and dental career is amazing.

    Abdul Habib: What first got you interested in cricket?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I was 7 years old when Pakistan won the 1992 World Cup, I have such great memories of sitting there with my entire family (being the only young girl there) and watching Pakistan win the tournament. As you know all Pakistanis are crazy about cricket and my family also fall into this category.

    Abdul Habib: At what point did cricket change from a passing interest into a burning passion to actually play the game?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I actually started playing the game from 7 years old with my brothers, cousins and my dad. As time went on I started playing with the hard ball and then I began playing cricket with the boys in the Karachi GymKhana. When the trials were announced for the Karachi Gymkhana team I went to try out and got selected on my first attempt.

    Abdul Habib: Lots of people play cricket with their families but very few go on to pursue it as a career, what drove you to want to play professionally?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I wanted to help change the perception that cricket is only a men's game, both here in my own country and worldwide. I wanted to help convince the government to take women's sport more seriously and to give us more priority and better facilities. I used to play in the u15 boys team for Karachi GymKhana and then at u17 level I became the captain of the boy's team for Karachi GymKhana. Which was great, especially since I was the only girl in the team! At first some of the boys were very unhappy at having to have a girl on their team because they had this perception that girls can't play cricket and I had to perform better than at least half the guys on the team just to stop them constantly questioning me over every little thing.

    Abdul Habib: I've been brought up outside Pakistan and from the impression I've got of the way Pakistan works, I'm quite surprised that they would allow a girl to play alongside the boys and even captain the men's team. Were you the first girl to play for Karachi GymKhana? Tell us a bit more about how you got into that team.

    Urooj Mumtaz: I still am the only girl that plays at Karachi GymKhana. The real problem is, that in more developed countries there is a women's domestic structure in place which we didn't have in Pakistan till about 2 or 3 years ago. So there was really no alternative but to play with the boys team and there is no law or rule at the Karachi GymKhana that says only boys are allowed to play cricket. If you're a member of the club then boy or girl, you have all the right to play cricket there. By the grace of God, I used to perform at least as well as half the boys on the team so I earned my place on the team. As time went on I got to know the boys and full credit to them, they helped me out a lot.

    Abdul Habib: Are there any guys from your team who are now in the national team or whose names we would recognize?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No I'm the only cricketer to have made it to the national team, some of the others have played domestic cricket but none of them (to the best of my knowledge) have attended a Pakistan camp yet.

    Abdul Habib: You speak English like a native, were you born and brought up in Pakistan or are you a returning Pakistani from abroad?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No I'm from Pakistan, brought up and educated here in Pakistan. I've always studied in English speaking schools and all my family speak very good English too so that must be why.

    Abdul Habib: You mentioned that you found Jonty Rhodes very inspirational because you're very serious about your fielding, what cricketers from Pakistan did you find inspirational?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Like I said earlier the 1992 World Cup was what hooked me, at the time I was too young to understand the impact Imran Khan made in that World Cup. But as I grew up and I learned about the way that he captained the team and how he sparked them all up to pull of an impossible victory, I grew to really admire him. I've even met him and spoken to him as well. Now that I'm a national captain myself I take a lot of my inspiration from the way he led his team. Once again I have to say that Jonty Rhodes was a phenomenal cricketer, he changed the way we look at cricket. He made it acceptable to pick players purely for their fielding ability. 25% of the game is batting, 25% is bowling but 50% of the game is about how you field. If you have a bad day with the bat or the ball you still have 300 deliveries as a fielder in which to make up for it and save as many runs as you can. A superb fielding unit can often overcome a more talented batting or bowling team. Also I admire Shoaib Malik as well, he's a good utility player with his batting, bowling and fielding as well.

    Abdul Habib: Why do you think Pakistani players fitness is so low (both men and women)? Is it our diet, culture or just laziness?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I'm sure you're not talking about the women's team.

    Abdul Habib: Erm.. I havent seen the women's team play, so I guess not.

    Urooj Mumtaz: (laughs) Good. I'm sure once you see the women's team play you make any comments about our fitness. Masha Allah we were one of the fittest teams in the recent World Cup qualifiers, so there's no problems with fitness in the women's team. I've never seen the men's team training so I dont know what sort of regime they have but it's quite sad about all the fitness problems the men's team is having these days. I think in Pakistan we dont have the professional approach to sport and fitness that the other teams have, our boys take the fitness aspect of the game for granted, they probably dont feel it's something they need to worry about as much as they do about their batting or bowling.

    Abdul Habib: So the Pakistan women's team is a committed unit?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I think it's fantastic the dedication that the women's team have to the game, we're away from home for months and spend hours standing in the burning sun without the sort of financial compensation, fame or support that the men's team gets. Yet we still put in 100% every step of the way because we know that if we want to be taken seriously then we need to perform beyond the best of our abilities.

    Abdul Habib: Do you or have you played any other sports?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No not professionally but I'm a black belt in Karate, I did swimming at the national level until I was 16, I play tennis, also table tennis and to relax I like to play golf when I'm free.

    Abdul Habib: That must be what keeps you so fit then.

    Urooj Mumtaz: We only have a training camp about twice a year so we have to keep doing some sort of sports activities in order to maintain our fitness, I'm very fortunate that I have access to the Karachi GymKhana's facilities but unfortunately it's not the same for all the girls on the team.

    Abdul Habib: Why did you become a leg spinner?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It's actually a very funny story, when I started playing with the hard ball I used to bowl with a leg spin action even though I couldnt bowl leg spin. Because my wrists were so flexible I kept bowling googlies. Now anyone who has tried to bowl spin will know that the googly is one of the hardest deliveries to master. Somehow I was bowling googlies as my stock delivery, it took me a year and a half just to learn how to bowl a normal leg break! I was told that if I could master the leg break then I would become a very successful leg spinner and that's why I chose leg spin.

    Abdul Habib: Which leg spin bowler was your inspiration?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I dont think the world has seen a better legspinner than Shane Warne, he bowled all kinds of legspinning deliveries with the same action. I've got lots of videos of him bowling which I study to learn how to bowl them myself because I think he's the best person to learn that from.

    Abdul Habib: What about your own runup and action, who is it similar to?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I've never tried to copy anyone so I dont think my action matches anyone else's. There are so few examples of good legspinners during my lifetime, the only ones I can think of are Shane Warne, Danish Kaneria and Mushtaq Ahmed.

    Abdul Habib: Have you ever met Abdul Qadir or Mushtaq Ahmed and got help from them?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No but I would love to meet Abdul Qadir because he was a fantastic legspinner and of course Mushtaq Ahmed too. It would be an honour to meet with and learn from either of these two great legspinners.

    Abdul Habib: Which varieties of delivery can you bowl and do you have any secret deliveries planned?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I can bowl the leg break, the flipper, the faster one and of course the googly. I have all 4 in my armoury right now, I've had to work really hard at it because leg spin is the most difficult form of bowling to master. I believe that all the deliveries that could have been discovered have been discovered, these days it's more about the ability to disguise your variations and trick the batsman into playing for a googly when you bowl a leg break.

    Abdul Habib: Have you ever bowled to the men's team, if you have then how did you do and if you havent then would you like to?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We've met them a couple of times but unfortunately we've never had the opportunity to play against them, I think it would be a great way for us to improve our game if we were given the opportunity to play against the men's team. It would be a good learning experience for us and perhaps we can give them a few pointers as well.

    Abdul Habib: They're probably too scared to play you, given their current form you'd probably beat them.

    Urooj Mumtaz: (laughs) That's what they were telling us in South Africa, they said given the current form of both teams the Pakistan women's team would probably beat the men's team right now!

    Abdul Habib: You've been bowling well so far, tell us about that.

    Urooj Mumtaz: I think if you bowl in the right areas, then even the best batsmen in the world would struggle to dominate your bowling. With God's help I've been very successful so far, I've taken 25 wickets in just 20 games (I didnt bowl in the other 3 games I played) and I've taken a 5-for twice including on my debut.

    Abdul Habib: Who do you think (from the men's team) would struggle against your bowling and who do you think would play it well?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It's hard to say because it's a whole different version of the game, given the opportunity I'd like to test myself against all of them. But if I had to choose one player, then I'd want to see if I could tie down Shahid Afridi because he loves to hit spinners for 6 and if he gets going then he's probably the hardest batsman to bowl to in the world. Shoaib Malik also plays spin very well so bowling to him would be a big test for me. Then again they have Danish Kaneria to practise against so perhaps they would read my variations quite easily.

    Abdul Habib: Whats the main reason for the recent improvement in women's cricket in Pakistan?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Well we've been practising for a over a year for this qualifying tournament, it was cancelled twice before it finally went ahead. There is a great spirit amongst the girls right now and we all want to do well. The next WC was 6 years away and so we wanted to do really well in this upcoming World Cup. It's only if we qualified for this World Cup that we'd get noticed and things may start to improve for women's cricket in Pakistan. If we hadn't qualified for this WC then women's cricket would be put on the backburner in Pakistan and we'd struggle to get any support. hopefully things will change now because we're going to the World Cup.

    Abdul Habib: I'm sure you've been following the events between India and Australia, is there any sledging during women's games? And if there is which teams are the worst culprits?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No, not really. Although when we played India, there were quite a few mind games going on because Pakistan v India at any level is a big event. But there's no nasty comments or abuse, we all get on quite well off the field. We say things to try and break the batsman's concentration but nothing on the level of what goes on in the men's game, I've never witnessed anything malicious in the women's game it's played in a very sporting spirit.

    Abdul Habib: Who is the Shahid Afridi and the Shoaib Akhtar of women's cricket?

    Urooj Mumtaz: The Shahid Afridi is Kanta Jalil who's also a fast bowler but she loves to strike the ball out of the ground and she does hit it a very, very long way. When she gets it in the middle of the bat, the only place you'll find the ball is outside the ground! The Shoaib Akhtar is Asmavia Iqbal, she's the fastest bowler in our team and her favourite player is Shoaib Akhtar. She copies everything he does. The only difference between him and her is that she's completely fit, sticks to her game and does the job she's asked to do.

    Abdul Habib: (laughs) That comment will make you very popular with some of our members.

    Urooj Mumtaz: (laughs)

    Abdul Habib: Like Shoaib Malik you are a very young captain, what's the story behind you getting the captaincy for the women's team at such a young age?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I became the captain when I was 19 years old, I think I'm one of the youngest captains in International cricket if not the youngest. When the ICC took on Women's cricket and the PCB started trials in 2005, I was selected as the Vice Captain and a year later I became the captain. It was an amazing feeling becoming the captain of the team but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. You can no longer be solely worried about your own performance and your own form, you have to worry about everyone else's too. It's an incredible challenge to undertake, to captain the national side but it's a challenge I relish and I'm hoping that I'm equal to the task.

    Abdul Habib: How did it feel the first time you wore the Pakistan shirt and went out to represent your country? Describe the day for us.

    Urooj Mumtaz: You can't describe it, standing there under your flag with Pakistan written on your shirt it's such an incredible feeling. I think the only people who could truly understand that feeling are those that have experienced it for themselves. I felt very privileged to be one of the chosen few who get the chance to represent their country. My bowling debut was in the second game of our series in the West Indies. In the first game I didnt get a chance to bowl due to the West Indies chasing down our total very quickly. My bowling figures were 5/35 and I got the woman of the match award as well. Back then playing cricket was just about having fun but since we reached the qualifying rounds and ever since I've been given the captaincy it's a lot more hard work.

    Abdul Habib: Cricket is the number one sport and pastime in Pakistan, so it's great to finally see a Pakistani women's cricket team but we both know there are elements within Pakistani society who are against women playing any sports. Have you ever come across anyone like that or have you had anyone passing negative comments towards you?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I don't think that attitude is as common as it used to be, I think that sort of limited thinking where people think women shouldnt play sports or leave the house isn't that prevalent anymore. No doubt it still happens a lot in some areas where there isnt much education but I think it's the lack of publicity and media support we get that feeds this sort of attitude. You still get a lot of negative comments about girls not being able to play cricket but when those people actually come to see us play it doesnt take them long to change their opinion and accept that girls can play cricket! Our team are trendsetters right now, we all want to change that sort of backward thinking in Pakistan and to a great degree it has changed.

    Abdul Habib: Are there any stories you can relate from other girls in your team on this subject?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Even now a lot of the girls still have a lot of problems stemming from society (not from their immediate families), where people talk and this causes complications for them. It's very sad actually because it's such a beautiful sport to play. I think a lot of girls will understand when I say that even if the immediate family are willing, they often get influenced by society and that causes them to object to the girl playing cricket. Hopefully if the media give us more coverage and people get to see women playing cricket all the time, then it will become more acceptable to everyone.

    Abdul Habib: Have you ever faced any personal threats for participating in the sport?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Threats? No, not at all. I dont think any girl on the team has received any threats. Lack of support is a big issue but no, no threats.

    Abdul Habib: What problems have you faced trying to be a female cricketer in Pakistan? Did you get a lot of encouragement/discouragement?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I've been very privileged to have had so much support from my family, college and friends. What's sad though is when you come across people who don't support you, they arent against you but neither do they encourage or support you. Their attitude is just like 'Oh a Womens team' and that's it. We are the national team of Pakistan and we should be just as important as the men are. We're not asking for the same level of finances or facilities that the men have but at the very least we should have half the level of media coverage that the men's team gets. It's sad that fewer people have heard of us in Pakistan than those that know of us abroad!

    Abdul Habib: Do you girls get enough support from your families, are they behind you or are you constantly struggling with them?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I think it's bizarre to go out and play International sport if you dont have any support from your parents, we're lucky in that all the girls on the team get 100% support from their parents and that makes our lives much easier. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my mom and dad, my sister and brother and all my family and friends for all their support and encouragement. Without their understanding of my dreams and ambitions, none of this would've been possible for me, I would not be where I am today.

    Abdul Habib: Do you girls get enough support from the PCB or are you treated like second class citizens?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I think they should be doing a lot more than they are right now, they've started doing stuff recently but it's moving very slowly. If they want us to beat the best teams in the world then there needs to be more support from them, women's cricket is growing very rapidly and if the PCB wants to catch up then they need to put their foot down on the accelerator as soon as possible. We went to South Africa in January 2007 and then we played the World Cup qualifiers in February 2008. During that whole year we didnt play a single International match! Imagine the boys team going into a tournament without having played any cricket for a year, all the other women's teams in that tournament had been getting lots of practise but we went in without any International standard practise matches. I think that's the main difference between us and the other teams which are progressing faster than us, they play far more international cricket than we do. The best way to improve is to play more games and unfortunately we dont even get that.

    Abdul Habib: What advice would you give to young girls who are looking to play cricket professionally like yourself?

    Urooj Mumtaz: If they can convince their parents, then they should come to the trials we hold every six months for our domestic structure. We have teams from most cities and regions, if they think they are good enough to one day represent Pakistan, then they shouldn't hold back. They should come down to the trials all guns blazing, I can tell them from personal experience that representing your country is one of the best things you can do.

    Abdul Habib: There's domestic cricket for women?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It does exist, it started a couple of years ago. What this domestic championship has done is increase the pool of girls who play proper cricket. But the gap is still too big between International women's cricket and our domestic games. Another problem is that for most of the year the girls arent playing any cricket so how can we expect them to improve to a level from where they can represent Pakistan? There's only one domestic competition a year which doesnt really help to develop the girls game, even for the International players we dont get to play enough games. We've got one competition coming up but other than that, even we dont play any cricket throughout the year.

    Abdul Habib: Which tournament is coming up?

    Urooj Mumtaz: The Asia Cup, which takes place in May and will have 4 teams taking part. Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and us. Other than the Asia Cup we have nothing lined up at all, we're trying to get in touch with the West Indies to try and play them. We're currently ranked 8th in the world. South Africa, West Indies and Sri Lanka are the 3 countries directly above us. So we're hoping to play them and jump a few ranks for the next World Cup.

    Abdul Habib: So this women's domestic competition, what format are the matches?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We have first class matches, the teams are on a regional basis and we have 16 teams taking part. The three top teams play a tri-series with the best 2 teams playing in the final. We have city teams playing like Karachi, Lahore, Sialkot, Faisalabad, etc

    Abdul Habib: What's the process of selection for the national team?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It gets divided into two criteria. The first and most important is physical fitness because if you're not physically fit enough to play at International level then you shouldn't be in the team. Once the fitness is established you can look at their other abilities. The way cricket is played these days you have to be able to contribute in 2 or more fields in order to be selected. We look for players who are not only exceptional batsmen/bowlers but also exceptional fielders too. It's no longer good enough to just be a good batsman/bowler at any level of cricket.

    Abdul Habib: What are the facilities like for women's cricket in Pakistan?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It depends what part of the country our camps take place in. We dont even have a women's cricket academy, it was only approved recently and hopefully they'll start building it soon. If we're at the NCA in Lahore then we get access to all the same facilities that the men get but when that isn't possible then we are housed in places where it's not always possible to get access to a gymnasium and other important facilities. I'm hoping that in a couple of years when the women's academy (to be built in Lahore) is completed, things will improve for us.

    Abdul Habib: When you use the NCA, are you given exclusive use?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Yes, when the women's team is holding a camp somewhere then no men's team (senior or junior) is scheduled to use those facilities at the same time.

    Abdul Habib: What are the facilities like for women's cricket abroad?

    Urooj Mumtaz: There's a huge difference between our setup and the professionalism and facilities provided to women cricketers abroad. I was hugely impressed with the facilities available to the South African and Indian teams, they had all the computer equipment needed and it's very professional over there. Although those teams have been playing for a few decades now, so that's why they're more structured. I've recently heard that the Indian women's team has been picked up by Sahara and they get very close to what the men get. There is a lot of support for them from their government and I've heard that even the women's domestic games are televised in India.

    Abdul Habib: Well in Pakistan, even men's domestic cricket doesnt get much television coverage.

    Urooj Mumtaz: Actually they do, currently the Pentangular Cup is going on and they show it live every day.

    Abdul Habib: Yes but that's only the games in Karachi...

    Urooj Mumtaz: ...still at least they are getting some coverage on the television. I've even seen the junior men's team and the men's blind team getting more coverage and support than the women's team gets. It's sad that the women's team has never even come on television yet.

    Abdul Habib: Is there much sponsorship or money in the women's game? Who pays for the facilities and equipment?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We have to buy our equipment for ourselves, although for the WC qualifying tournament (only) our kit was sponsored by Slazenger. Our coach Umar Rasheed knows the owner of MB Sports and he approached him in a personal capacity and he was very kind to sponsor all our squad of 14 for the same tournament. I've found that whenever I've approached companies myself to sponsor me they've been more than happy to do so, so it's quite disappointing that the board hasnt taken those same steps for the women's team the way they have for the men's team.

    Abdul Habib: How helpful is the PCB when it comes to finances?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We get very limited financial support from the PCB, our daily allowance is 300 rupees a day...

    Abdul Habib: ...300 rupees? Is that it?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Yes, 300 rupees. Which is peanuts for the PCB. I'm not saying pay us exactly what you pay the men but at least pay us something which is respectable and which is a living wage. Some of the girls do need the financial help as well and when we're staying away from home for months in foreign countries it all adds up.

    Abdul Habib: So that's 300 rupees for each day of the tour?

    Urooj Mumtaz: No that's 300 rupees for each day of a training camp but whenever we start an International tour we get $50 a day.

    Abdul Habib: $50 wont even buy you two decent meals in some parts of the world. It's still nothing for an International sportsperson.

    Urooj Mumtaz: Yes it's still nothing but it's better than 300 rupees (laughs)

    Abdul Habib: (laughs) When you put it like that then maybe but I still think it's unacceptable. How do you feel when you hear the well paid International men's teams complaining about having to stay in 5 star hotels and travelling first class in planes?

    Urooj Mumtaz: It's just sad when you hear things like that, they dont know how lucky they are. I had the opportunity to play in the Afro-Asia Women's Cup where an Asian women's team took on an African women's team in 2006, I was representing Pakistan in the Asian team. That tournament was a joint men's and women's tournament sponsored by the ICC and the ACC, so both men and women got paid exactly the same amount of money and were given the same perks and facilities. I got to see for myself exactly how much the men get paid and how lucky they are. We flew first class all the way, porters were provided for our luggage and we all got to stay in a 5 star hotel in Bangalore. I was just amazed at the contrast between the way men's teams are treated and the way the women's teams are treated, it was a real eye-opener.

    Abdul Habib: Tell us about the match.

    Urooj Mumtaz: It was the first time ever that there was an Africa vs Asia match for the women's team and Asia won by about 45 runs. The match was shown on ESPN and myself and Bismah Mahroof were the only two Pakistani players in the Asian team. It was an interesting experience playing alongside the Indian players because it's strange being on the same side as players whom you consider your biggest rivals in any form of the game. I made some good friends and really enjoyed the experience!

    Abdul Habib: Aside from ICC tournaments, What happens during women's tournaments? Is the accommodation and are the facilities as extravagant?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I think the best accomodation we've been in is a 3 star hotel, the hotels we stay in are usually like that. As for flights we fly economy class, the Afro-Asia Cup was the only time we were flown First Class.

    Abdul Habib: Is it true that men arent allowed into the stadium to watch women play cricket?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Men are allowed to to come in but only if they're accompanied with women or family, this helps stop groups of rowdy boys coming in just to see girls playing cricket. The rule is in place to stop brash, hyper-excited young men from coming in and ruining the games.

    Abdul Habib: That clears things up quite a bit, do you prefer it this way or do you think anyone who wants to watch should be allowed in?

    Urooj Mumtaz: If the media gave us the support we need and helped to get us recognized as bona fide sportswomen then I think the ban could be lifted and people would just come in to watch the games because of how well we were playing. But until that happens, I think it's better to bar groups of boys coming in because they disrupt games and there's a lot of comments being shouted at us from the stands. If they really want to watch us play then surely they can make it a family day out and bring everyone to watch the game.

    Abdul Habib: Which international team is the best in women's cricket?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Australia are number one at the moment and then the Indian team is second.

    Abdul Habib: Tell us about your team, who are your matchwinners?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We've always been a very good bowling side, we've got a very good spin and fast bowling attack. We have a combination of 2 off spinners, a right arm leggie, a left arm orthodox spinner and 2 fast bowlers. We have a great variety in our bowling options and over the last year our fielding has improved dramatically, the bowlers always get the backing they need to put pressure on batsmen. Our batting has let us down on some occasions but that's mainly because they don't get the chance to play any International standard cricket, so it's difficult for them to adjust to the highest level without any practise.

    Abdul Habib: Great bowling, poor batting? Sounds just like the men's team.

    Urooj Mumtaz: (laughs) Yeah pretty much, I don't know how the men explain their poor batting but in our case it's a total lack of cricket. How can you expect us to improve and play better cricket if you dont give us more matches.

    Abdul Habib: What do you think your chances are in the 2009 World Cup?

    Urooj Mumtaz: We're the lowest ranked team in that World Cup and our immediate target is to improve our ranking by any margin and start to climb the rankings table. In the game of cricket any side is capable of pulling off a huge upset in the World Cup but overall we're looking to use this tournament as a learning experience. It'll be a great opportunity to play against all the best teams in the world and to compare ourselves to them, we can learn what we're doing right and what needs to be improved in order to become a top ranked side.

    Abdul Habib: Is this Pakistan's first World Cup?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Yes, we've only been playing for a couple of years and this is the first World Cup we'll play in. All the other teams have played in previous World Cups and they have individual players who have played 70 to 80 games each whilst I dont think all our players combined have much more than 100 games between us. So as you can imagine there is a huge gap in experience and unless we're given more International matches as preparation it will be difficult for us to develop as cricketers. But whatever the stats are on paper, I believe whichever team plays better on the day will win the game.

    Abdul Habib: Well if Ireland can beat Pakistan in the men's World Cup then surely you can pull off some upsets in the women's World Cup.

    Urooj Mumtaz: Well that's what we told ourselves when we went for the qualifying tournament. Both Holland and Ireland were fancied ahead of us but we told ourselves that if Ireland can beat Pakistan in the men's WOrld Cup then we can beat these teams in the Women's World Cup. We believed in our own skills and backed ourselves to do it. We'll need the same positive mindset for the World Cup and hopefully we can do well, we have to go out there looking to win every game. We're already ranked 8th and we can't be ranked any lower than that, so we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    Abdul Habib: Where do you see women's cricket in five years?

    Urooj Mumtaz: I'd love to see it becoming professional with girls getting central contracts, the PCB organising sponsorship and proper media coverage and support. In 5 years time I'd like for us to be recognized as one of the best teams in the world.

    Abdul Habib: The reason I wanted to do this interview with you was to try and raise the profile of the women's game, we read about your team reaching the final of the qualifying tournament and felt all your hardwork on Pakistan's behalf should be recognized.

    Urooj Mumtaz: Well interviews like this one are a step in the right direction, thanks to all your members for showing some interest in the Women's game. We need their support because we're playing for them and on behalf of Pakistan.

    Abdul Habib: Do you think the women's game can ever be truly popular? What do you think needs to happen to make it that way?

    Urooj Mumtaz: Of course it can, if you put your mind to something then you can make it happen. I do believe if the media give us the same exposure that the men's team get and if we're given access to the same facilities as the men, then women's cricket can become popular too. We need the full backing of the PCB and more media exposure. If people dont know we exist then how can they support us? If people cant watch us play then why would they become interested in us? The media and the PCB have a large role to play in making women's cricket more popular, we're a cricket mad nation and we'll watch cricket whoever's playing because that's how we love to pass our time. We even follow junior cricket and blind cricket when Pakistan plays, so why wouldnt people follow women's cricket when Pakistan plays?

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