METRO PLUS

Breaking into male bastion

COURAGEOUS Passion to excel

COURAGEOUS Passion to excel   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: R. ASHOK

Umpiring, always a man's domain, is witnessing women's entry now

As a cricketer, B. Sumathi Hariharan Aiyar felt the need to be familiar with even the minute detail of the game. Her interest to be acquainted with the rules prompted her to take the road less travelled by women. She cleared the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association umpiring exam in 1976-77 and became the first Indian woman umpire.Having officiated three international matches as a third umpire, Sumathi wants to realise her dream of umpiring men's matches at the highest level. "Umpiring is not just men's domain. Women can also excel in this field, if given the opportunity. Now, slowly young women are preparing themselves to take up this job, but still there is a long way to go," she says.Umpiring has indeed become a challenging profession these days, with the advent of technology. Though Sumathi admits that there is always an element of error, as the decisions are taken in split seconds, she still feels that presence of mind could minimise mistakes. "Fitness plays a crucial role and so does concentration. Also it is important to keep a cool head during pressure situations."Sumathi broke into the cricketing scene in the early 70's as an all rounder a middle order bat and an off spinner. Apart from representing the country, she has also played for Madras University, Tamil Nadu and South Zone."I was crazy about the game from my early age. But those days' women's cricket was hardly recognised. But the passion kept me going," she says. Sumathi also feels that the recent merger of Women Cricket Association of India (WCAI) with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would do a world of good to women's cricket in the country."It is important for the cricketers to play international matches regularly. BCCI has the experience of organising tours and the merger will play a crucial role in this aspect," says the Canara Bank employee.Sumathi also adds that there is no point in comparing men's and women's cricket and that both are separate entities. "Both have their own charm. Although men's cricket is very popular in the country at the moment, women's cricket is also catching up, as we do have a talented bunch of women cricketers in the country," she says with pride.

Mindset

Sumathi adds that lot of young girls still feel cricket is a men's game and that there is a need for a change in the mindset. "Only a few districts, apart from Chennai in the State have quality women cricketers."But she hopes the effort taken by Tamil Nadu Cricket Association to spread awareness would bring in more girls into the game.G. PRASAD
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