“As a tiny horror, breaking home windows whereas taking part in cricket in my garden, I might shut out the complaining from our neighbours by commentating by myself sport. ‘What a shot by Marina Iqbal! She raises her bat to thank the cheering crowd’,” the previous lady nationwide cricket crew all-rounder tells Eos.
“I used to mumble whatever came to my head about my game as I made runs, just like I had heard commentators doing it for cricketers on TV.”
Although she managed to suppress the behavior considerably throughout her taking part in days, the love for mouthing off caught there, behind Marina’s thoughts.
What acquired her began once more was an interview of former Australian cricketer Melanie Jones, who additionally took to cricket commentary following an illustrious taking part in profession.
“That’s when I realised that I could also do it,” she says. “I played my last domestic match in 2018 and I started commentary that same year in October, during the ICC Women’s Championship in Australia. But the women commentators of Pakistan actually got noticed during the Pakistan Super League [PSL] 2020.”
Marina is amongst a rising variety of girls, a few of them former gamers however others merely huge buffs of the sport, who’re storming the hitherto male solely protect of the cricket commentary field.
“Mel was my inspiration,” admits Marina.
“She has also become like a mentor after I told her this. She still gives me feedback,” she shares, including that now she additionally will get useful suggestions from cricket presenters similar to Aalia Rasheed, Asif Khan, Dr Nauman, and so forth.
Eager on turning it right into a career, Marina additionally took a course in cricket commentary in England. “I also told [former women’s team captains] Urooj Mumtaz Khan and Sana Mir about it,” she says.
“Cricket commentary may seem like an easy job but it is not. It is a technical field.”
The final T20 Cup made many sit up and take discover of the brand new breed of feminine Pakistani cricket commentators. However shattering the glass partition within the commentary field has not been like batting on a bully monitor
Marina has additionally accomplished commentary within the Pakistan and West Indies girls sequence in 2019, in addition to the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy and the Nationwide T20 the identical yr, and radio commentary for the PSL and the Nationwide T20 final yr.
“In the commentary box, at first our male colleagues were quite sceptical about us, but all that is changing now as we prove ourselves,” she says.
“My family knows that cricket is my life and that I can’t leave cricket. So they are glad to see me involved in the game I love so much,” she says. Requested if there may be good cash on this line of labor, she smiles and shrugs. “Well, not as much as in cricket, but you never know, that too might happen someday.”
Captains to commentators
Former Pakistan girls’s crew captain and present chief selector Urooj Mumtaz Khan can also be making waves as a feminine commentator lately. Like Marina, she additionally stepped into the sector due to her ardour for the game.
Urooj additionally tried her hand at Urdu commentary for PSL, however she acknowledges that it is rather tough, particularly for her, as a result of it requires you to have good pronunciation and command over the language.
“I have always heard English cricket commentary, so my mind was also programmed that way, and Urdu commentary proved to be a completely different ball game,” she laughs.
“In English commentary, too, the way you deliver a message is important. And sending across your message is not easy. Still, my cricket background sees me through it. Having played cricket at the highest level has helped me excel here as well,” she says, including that her favorite cricket commentators embrace Ian Bishop, Nasser Hussain, Alan Wilkins and Mel Jones.
Former captain Sana Mir is one other former participant who has moved from doing pre- and post-match reveals into pitch experiences and commentary.
An equal alternative
Zainab Abbas, whose work was additionally well-received in the course of the Nationwide T20 Cup, has not performed cricket like the opposite three, however carries an abiding ardour for the sport. She additionally says that the presence of ladies in commentary and presentation panels sends a really highly effective message of how issues are altering around the globe and in Pakistan.
“Women are playing sports and talking about sports. I feel glad to be part of it,” she says.
“I started broadcasting some six years ago and did some cricket commentary too here and there while covering the game,” says Zainab. “I’ve additionally accomplished a number of floor interviews, however once I entered the sector, gender stereotyping prevented it from being thought of an avenue for ladies.
“People will always have opinions but as long as you know the game and are willing to evolve, you can also change mindsets. I proved myself. I have also worked with the International Cricket Council. ICC picks you for your work, not because of commendations or recommendations,” she says.
“But now the world is realising that like other workplaces, commentary boxes should also have both genders. I had to create by own path. It was not really about fame or glamour but about creating opportunities for more girls,” she says.
Anchoring by alternative
Though sports activities presenter Sawera Pasha, who additionally runs her personal YouTube channel, says that she enjoys sports activities anchoring greater than commentary, she provides that by encouraging girls commentators, the Pakistan Cricket Board has laid down a platform for younger women and girls to specific their expertise and fervour, each on the sector and off it.
“Still, I feel that my forte is sports anchoring. Just like an anaesthetist won’t do surgery, I won’t do commentary and analysis,” she says.
Assessing the brand new children
Sports activities presenter Aalia Rasheed, whose sports activities experience isn’t restricted to cricket, has seen the gradual change through the years and believes that, undoubtedly, the way forward for feminine commentators may be very shiny.
“To become a cricket commentator requires a deep knowledge of the game, good communication skills, and command over key information, such as statistics, records, etc.,” she factors out with regard to the qualities required.
“An outspoken and talkative attitude is also helpful. And complete awareness about the current issues, controversies and happenings should be at the top of your list as a commentator. Given all this, our female commentators are doing a reasonably good job,” she says.
Requested to evaluate the strengths and weak spot of the present crop of the ladies commentariat, Aalia is candid.
“Leena Aziz was the primary Pakistani lady cricket commentator. She has been working with PTV [Pakistan Television] and some different personal and authorities radio stations, and she or he has huge cricketing data. The PCB, not too long ago, additionally launched a number of feminine commentators in the course of the Nationwide T20 Cup, which is a commendable step.
“Commentators similar to Marina Iqbal and Urooj Mumtaz Khan are cricketers themselves however that doesn’t make you an authority on air, since taking part in cricket may be very completely different from explaining cricket. A cricketer-turned-commentator might be good at technical data. Nevertheless, she might not essentially be equally good in explaining the state of affairs. And on the identical time, a non-cricketer commentator might be extra vibrant and eloquent throughout her dialog, however it’s not crucial that she has a good concept about pitch and situations. However these two ladies are rocking.
“I think Urooj is more fluent and sounds crisp, while Marina explains the game situation more interactively. Both young ladies track down each and every moment of the matches. With the growing craze and enthusiasm for cricket, the induction of female commentators is really a welcome step,” she provides.
“Zainab Abbas, the preferred cricket host, additionally did commentary in the course of the Nationwide T20 Cup. Nevertheless, she is finest as an interviewer. She ought to follow her authentic position as an anchor. Sawera Pasha and Zainab Abbas each have a grip over their topic and undoubtedly they’re probably the most likeable personalities on display.
“Twenty years ago, no one could have imagined that female commentators would be shining in an absolutely male-oriented game,” observes Aalia. “But our prominent male commentators should give a little leeway to the girls when they are in front of the camera or on the microphone, as learning is a gradual process.”
Eos managed to trace down Leena Aziz, the pioneer feminine cricket commentator Aalia talked about, in Edinburgh. She says that her journey began as a cricket author when she was contributing articles for the The Muslim newspaper in Islamabad.
“I was always a cricket lover,” she says.
“My father was a cricket fanatic so you’ll be able to say that it was in my blood. From the age of six, I used to be taking part in aggressive cricket with my older cousins and my father. In my teenagers, I began to put in writing for The Muslim. Then PTV picked me for evaluation as a result of the managing director on the time, Raana Shaikh, was impressed with my columns.
“I began work at PTV with great cricketers such as Sarfaraz Nawaz, etc. Then I thought my knowledge base was great and since cricket was my passion, why not commentate? But in those days, it wasn’t easy — it never is for the pioneers and women! But I was resilient and managed to convince people at PTV to give me an opportunity. So, from television I went to radio Pakistan and by now have done over 200 international matches for them, spanning over 17 years. But the journey wasn’t easy at all. I feel it’s easier now as I have paved the way for the ladies commentating nowadays,” she says.
About radio commentary, she says that it’s positively tougher “as you need to be the listeners’ eyes and ears. There are additionally no breathers, so the stamina needs to be good. Furthermore, I really feel that Radio Pakistan is a nursery for all commentators in Pakistan. You be taught your commerce there after which, when you’ve accomplished that, you’ll be able to commentate each for tv and the radio.
“Personally, I enjoy both, but honestly I feel television commentary becomes a tad easier if you have the radio experience. I am a traditionalist, so I admire radio commentators more, because the challenge is greater than television,” she says.
What about sexism? Leena says she wasn’t criticised overtly, “but it is the behind-the-scenes intrigues that become difficult to handle. Men seem to believe that commentary is their birthright, thus the politics. Therefore, for every commentary job you have to fight doubly hard in comparison to men. With time you learn to deal with the politics, although it’s frustrating. There will be always someone who doesn’t like you because you’re a woman, but there will be someone who’ll support you, too,” she factors out.
Speaking in regards to the new breed of feminine cricket commentators, Leena says that it feels nice to see so many younger women commentate lately.
“In a way, I feel I inspired them in some small way,” she says.
Her recommendation to them: “Respect the career. In case you are severe about commentary, then solely commentate and never multitask. It’s a time-consuming commerce. One has to be taught and watch cricket from all around the world, and that calls for time. Due to this fact, both be a commentator or select to be an engineer, a selector or a coach. You’ll be able to’t and shouldn’t do all. I’ve great respect for Ramiz Raja as he stop the job with the PCB to commit his time solely to commentary. That’s the best way to go.
“The other advice is to watch Test matches, listen to commentators on Sky Cricket — Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, Bumble [David Lloyd] even Isa Guha — and pick up the finer points and modern terminology,” she says. “The more time you have on your hands, the better you’ll become, and you’ll be abreast with the nuances of the game.”
The largest nuance to be acknowledged is that cricket is not any extra only a gentleman’s sport.
The author is a member of employees She tweets @HasanShazia
Printed in Daybreak, EOS, January third, 2021