Girls can’t play cricket. Girls shouldn’t play cricket. Cricket isn’t a sport for girls. Girls are soft, they’ll get hurt while playing cricket. Girls will never be as good as boys. Playing in the sun will make girls dark. What will the neighbours say?
If you’re a girl who likes sports, you may have heard some versions of these remarks. Or your parents might have protected you from such remarks.
Things are changing for the better and more girls are playing the sport than ever before and today, neighbours might be the ones bowling to you and cheering you on, but such myths and attitudes remain.
Don’t let these attitudes defeat or deter you as you follow your passions!
When in Class 4, some of you might have read a story in your textbooks called ‘Girls Can’t Play Cricket’. In this story, a young boy, Sumit, gets a cricket set for his birthday. He and his friends are excited to try it out and make two teams. However, they leave out Priti and Sudha, the two girls in their group. Much to their anger, the girls are told: “Girls can’t play cricket”, “You can watch us play”, “You can cheer your favourite team”.
The story has a happy ending. Sudha and Priti’s mothers teach them how to play cricket. The girls and their mums challenge the boys to a match … and win!
Because OF COURSE girls can play cricket!
‘Loki Takes Guard’ by Menaka Raman is another book that breaks these set ideas of what girls are “supposed” to do. Lokanayaki Shanmugam, a cricket-crazy 11-year-old, wants to play cricket in her local team. Although the coach and her friends want to help her, girls aren’t allowed to play with the boys on this team. This book is a story about how Loki and those who support her manage to break some stereotypes and have fun along the way.
These books and stories are a good way to remind us and those around us that there is no good reason for girls to stay away from sports, especially cricket.
If someone tells you cricket is not for girls, point them to the many cricket records held by the women before the men. In fact, women invented overarm bowling and also, the first cricket world cup was held by the women a few years before the men got on board.
Tell anyone who doubts you that the all-time highest one-day run-getter and wicket-taker in the world among women are both Indians. These are Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami respectively, who are both inspirational legends of the game.
In 2020, the Indian women’s cricket team made history when they went to the final of the T20 World Cup. The MCG was packed with a record 86,174 people attending the match. Would such a crowd have been there if women couldn’t play good cricket?
‘Too girly’ vs ‘too tomboyish’
All those hurtful comments we hear seem to suggest that girls need to look and act a certain way. And this may weigh on your mind.
Sometimes, girls stop playing cricket in their teens because they worry about how they look while playing sport. They think that being sweaty is not for girls; feels shy in some of the clothing worn for playing and training in certain sports; thinks they are ‘too fat’ or ‘too thin’ or ‘too weak’, That the muscles are not feminine.
Try not to let such thoughts affect you and spoil your love of the game. However, you are, shrug your shoulders and say ‘so what!’ Being sporty is good for your health, and it’s cool.
Do you remember what India legend Mithali Raj said when someone pointed out that she was sweating? She had the perfect response! Because, of course, everyone sweats! Everyone gets dirty! So what?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not ‘girly’ enough because you play sport – or on the other hand, that you’re too girly to play sport. You don’t have to be a certain kind of girl to play cricket. You can be a ‘tomboy’ or a girl who likes ‘girly’ things, or a little of both! Stereotypes are old news.
“People think girls playing cricket are tomboys. So we’ve tried to get the message across that you can be a “girly girl,” do all the things a regular girl does, and still play cricket.”Mignon du Preez, former South Africa captain
If someone tells you that ‘Girls can’t do …’, tell them with pride ‘This girl can!’
Here’s a great video for inspiration.
And here’s a story of how a group of girls in UP changed the minds of those around them while following their passion 🏏