Former Indian cricketer GS Lakshmi, who was the first woman to be appointed to the ICC International Panel of Match Referees in May, will also be the first woman to officiate as match referee at an ICC event.
She is set to be the match referee for the league phase of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 which will be held in the UAE, starting from October 18. The match will be played between Oman and UAE.
Prior to this, Lakshmi had officiated as a match referee in domestic women's cricket in 2008-09 and has overseen three women’s ODIs and three women’s T20 matches. She has also supervised the men’s Under-16 (for the Vijay Merchant Trophy) and Under-19 (Cooch Behar Trophy) domestic games.
In an interview with TNM post her induction, the cricketer-turned-official had said, “I am really elated about the achievement. I want to thank the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for encouraging and nominating women for such professions. This is sure to open a lot of avenues for women, and to all my ex-cricketers, this comes as proof that there is life post-retirement. Women can still work after retirement if they are passionate enough.”
Lakshmi has been a resident of Hyderabad for almost three decades now. But her tryst with cricket goes back to her college days in Jamshedpur where her father was an employee with Tata. Lakshmi played for the Indian Railways team for a long time before breaking into the Indian women’s cricket team in 1999.
In the interview, she opined there is still a long way to go for women’s cricket in India.
“Until the 2017 World Cup, there was hardly any recognition for women’s cricket in India. Our girls have been doing well internationally but it’s the 2017 World Cup performance that catapulted the team to fame. Earlier, people only knew either Mithali (Raj) or Jhulan Goswami. But now, a lot of women are making it to the fore with the media also actively following women’s cricket. A full-fledged IPL is now being launched for women. I think things are going the right way but it will take a little more time for people to consider women’s cricket at par with men’s,” she told TNM.