Sana Mir – A Motivation For Women To Break Barriers
Women cricketers in Pakistan have not only suffered due to the lack of focus on women sports in Pakistan, but they have to constantly struggle against gender-based issues both in the field of sports and the society in general. Amidst these issues rose Pakistan’s first female cricket superstar, Sana Mir.
In an article published in thecricketmonthly.com written by distinguished writer Kamila Shamsie, she has detailed the rise of the renowned women cricket player.
Sana Mir was just 17 years old when she joined cricket. In 2004, she was shown by her mother a magazine article about the Pakistan women’s cricket team which featured cricket player Kiran Baloch, who had broken a world record. The article had an address for aspiring women cricketers.
Two months later, Mir went to the house of one Shaiza, who was considered to be one of the pioneers of women cricket in Pakistan. Mir caught Shaiza’s attention and was picked from a group of 70 to 80 girls for a place in the national women’s cricket team.
Sana Mir modeled her action on famed fast-bowler Waqar Younis. In the first tournament she played, the Asia Cup in Karachi in 2005, Sana took the wicket of Indian star batsman Mithali Raj.
A few months later, she suffered a stress fracture that was thought to be career ending. The doctor told her to remodel her bowling action, but the bowler’s attempts to do so only disappointed her.
But the bowler was saved further frustration due to her unconventional grip; she used to grip the ball with three fingers rather than two. When the stress fracture made fast bowling impossible, she was able to switch to spin bowling.
The bowler was not happy with switching her action, but she did and started taking wickets. Regarding the matter, Sana said that used to cry a lot when she had to give her run-up. “I used to feel very proud of following Waqar Younis’ run-up, my hair flowing. I cried and complained a little bit.”
However, Sana was motivated by her initial success in spin bowling and decided to continue.
Fast forward to 2009, Sana Mir was chosen as the cricket team’s captain. From that year onwards, she was performed so well that she was consistently in the top 20 ODI bowlers in the women’s cricket. However, she did find out that it was not easy to shut out the voices of criticism, which were targeted not just at her playing, but also at how she lived her life.
In 2017, she stepped down from the captaincy, and decided that she would be retiring in a few months. However, she started to play better and bagged more wickets than before. She attributes this change to the work she did on her ‘inner self’.
In 2018, after a tour to Australia, Sana Mir received a phone call from her teammate while shopping in Malaysia. Unbeknown to her, she had just been ranked the top ODI bowler in the world by the International Cricket Council.
Sana was already quite respected, and the number one ranking added more to her fame. The cricketing star has used her fame to appear in advertisements aimed at empowering women and freeing them from gender roles that are imposed on them in the society. In a recent advertisement for Uber, the cricket star takes hesitant women to a cricket field and tells them, “It is time to play freely.”
Another time, she made a post on Facebook in protest against a hair-removing cream ad that showed a girl on a basketball court worrying about how she looked. Sana said, “To all young girls out there who aspire to take up sports. Make no mistake: you need strong arms, not smooth arms, on a sports field.”
Sana Mir’s story is not just about her fighting to achieve her ambitions, her struggle both on and off the field is a source of hope for girls who aspire to make it big in the field of sports.
Naya Daur Media (NDM) is a bi-lingual progressive digital media platform aiming to inform and educate Pakistanis at home and abroad.