Nain Abidi: Changing Hearts And Minds In Pakistan

Following their encounter at the recent ACC Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup in Guangzhou, Hong Kong’s captain Ishitaa Gidwani, who made her international debut against Pakistan in 2006, engaged Pakistan’s star batter Nain Abidi in conversation in order to find out what makes a professional cricketer tick.

“We are not just playing cricket in Pakistan we are changing hearts and minds.”

Ishitaa: When did you start playing cricket?
Nain: I was 21 when I made my debut in 2006 against India in Jaipur, scoring 23 not out. It was very special to play my first game against India. (Pakistan’s women are about to tour India at present too)

I took inspiration from Imran Khan, he picked up the World Cup in 1992, and that’s when I thought of cricket and then I went through a magazine, and there was an interview with a very good woman cricketer and then we arranged trials. 100 girls were called there and only six were selected. From that day I think I start my cricket.

Ishitaa: How does training work in Pakistan with the players being from all the over country?
Nain: We used to stay in our regions and practise there. Practise with the boys, U-19 and U-21. PCB gives us grounds and nets in the region. We practise individually until we get to the camps. Camps can be 4 to 6 weeks months or 10 days

(Picture by Andy Townsend)

Ishitaa: Is it easy getting time off work and studies?
Nain: We don’t work. Nobody of us works. We are 24/7 PCB employees. We just stick to cricket 6 to 7 hours a day, when there’s a camp it’s 24 hours a day of cricket. PCB pays us a handsome amount so we won’t want to work and go away from cricket.

Ishitaa: At Hong Kong we only get to train 3 times a week.
Nain: Since we won the Asian Games gold medal people are now appreciating us. We have hardly lost in the six years we have been playing. Even though a lot of people criticise us – we are doing something that is against women ‘you are doing something that is not made for women, made for man’ we are still going.
After the Asian Games gold medal we did not step back, the girls have worked hard, the management have supported us, there is a lot of hype from media, then we got a lot of internationals, we went to England and West Indies and did well and then we went to the T20 World Cup and beat India.

Ishitaa: How many tours do you have a year?
Nain: Three or four a year
Ishitaa: We have to wait two years for each tournament.