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News

Urooj Mumtaz: 'Extremely unfortunate to see Pakistan players missing out on WPL'

"Every opportunity must be fair and inclusive," says the former Pakistan captain

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
14-Feb-2023
Jemimah Rodrigues poses with some of the Pakistan cricketers after their T20 World Cup game  •  PCB

Jemimah Rodrigues poses with some of the Pakistan cricketers after their T20 World Cup game  •  PCB

Players from seven different countries secured contracts at the inaugural Women's Premier League auction on Monday, a potentially game-changing moment for women's cricket. One country that was not in the running will miss out on this moment, however: Pakistan's cricketers were never in with a chance to get in the league, absent from the auction list altogether. As players such as Ashleigh Gardner, Beth Mooney and Nat Sciver-Brunt reflect and celebrate on a life-changing day, there was also recognition of Pakistan's cricketers being deprived of similar opportunities.
"It is extremely unfortunate to see Pakistan players missing out," Urooj Mumtaz, the former Pakistan captain and commentator, told ESPNcricinfo. "Every opportunity must be fair and inclusive, and all opportunities are steps towards collectively raising the standard of the women's game and globally growing the sport. Most importantly, they bridge the gap in quality between cricketing nations."
Pakistan's cricketers were due to be taking part in their own version of the PSL, the men's version of which began on Monday. This season was originally scheduled to concurrently host a first women's T20 league but that plan was shelved after a change in administration in December that saw Najam Sethi take over from Ramiz Raja as the board's head. That league has now been postponed to September at the earliest.
Outside of Pakistan, the reaction to Pakistan's absence has been fairly muted, with broadcaster Alison Mitchell being the most prominent critical voice highlighting the lack of "an equal opportunity", and expressing concerns about the financial gulf it would open up between Pakistan's female cricketers and the rest.
"Equality is only equality when all players have an equal opportunity to enter an auction," Mitchell tweeted. "Feel for how much these figures will grow the gap between Pakistan players and the rest. No Pakistan players in WPL Auction as per IPL."
Mumtaz said she "100% echoed" the view, as did another former Pakistan captain, Sana Mir.
Their successor, the incumbent Bismah Maroof, was also asked about the WPL auction, soon after an opening-game loss to India in the ongoing Women's T20 World Cup. Pakistan battled hard and were in the game till around the 15th over of India's chase, before Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh took India home. That the Indian pair were the fifth and eighth most expensive buys at the auction only serves to emphasise the gap. Maroof said Pakistan's players would "love to play" in any league that offered them the opportunity.
"We, as Pakistan, don't get many opportunities to play in the leagues and that's very unfortunate," she said. "Definitely, we would love to play and we want every opportunity we can get in the leagues. But yeah, it is what it is and we can't control that."
Pakistan's total absence from the WPL aligns with their male counterparts' absence from the IPL. Aside from the inaugural season in 2008, which took place during a brief political detente between India and Pakistan, no player representing Pakistan has taken part in the IPL. Azhar Mahmood played in 2012, 2013 and 2015, but by then he held a UK passport, and had registered himself for the league as a British citizen.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000