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GS Lakshmi becomes first woman to be ICC match referee

GS Lakshmi with captains Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur ahead of the final BCCI

GS Lakshmi has become the first woman to be part of the ICC's panel of international match referees and is eligible to officiate in international matches with immediate effect.

Lakshmi, who turns 51 on May 23, was a right-hand batsman and right-arm outswing bowler. She played from 1986 to 2004, representing a variety of teams, including South Central Railways, Andhra, Bihar, East Zone, and South Zone.

She first officiated as a match referee in domestic women's cricket in 2008-09 and has overseen three women's ODIs and three women's T20Is.

"To be selected in the international panel by the ICC is a huge honour for me as it opens up new avenues," Lakshmi said. "I have had a long career as a cricketer in India and also as a Match Referee. I hope to put my experience both as a player and as a match official to good use on the international circuit. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ICC, officials at the BCCI, my seniors in the cricketing circuit, my family and colleagues who have supported me over the years. I hope to live up to their expectations by doing my job to the best of my ability."

Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager - Umpires and Referees, said they welcomed the inclusion of more women into the ranks, but stressed that merit was not sacrificed for gender parity.

"We are committed to ensuring greater gender parity among our officials, but all appointments are made purely on merit," Griffith said. "Elevation is as a result of a thorough evaluation process that identifies the most talented match officials breaking through to an international level. It is pleasing that through consistent high performance we are able to add more women to our panels."

Lakshmi's appointment follows closely after Claire Polosak became the first woman umpire to stand in a men's ODI, officiating in the WCL Division 2 final between Namibia and Oman.

Meanwhile, Australia's Eloise Sheridan joined compatriot Polosak on the ICC Development Panel of Umpires, taking the number of women on that panel to an unprecedented eight. Lauren Agenbag, Kim Cotton, Shivani Mishra, Sue Redfern, Mary Waldron and Jacqueline Williams are the other women officials on that panel.