Record number of spectators flock to watch Pakistan vs England Women's T20Is

More than 10,000 people watched the game at Headingley which is a new record for a women’s match here

Imran Munawar
Saima Haroon
Pakistan captain Nida Dar (left), England captain Heather Knight (right) during a press conference. —Reporter/File

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan women's team captain Nida Dar is overwhelmed by the crowd support during the ongoing tour of England as a record number of spectators flock to watch Pakistan vs England women’s T20Is.

In the first leg of the tour, where the Green Shirts took over the home team in a three match T20I series, more than 27,000 spectators including thousands of Pakistanis and British-Pakistanis attended the games to watch the female cricketers in action in Birmingham, Northampton and Leeds.

Stadium attendance records at Edgbaston and Headingley were also broken during the T20I games between Pakistan and England women teams.

Although the Pakistan team didn’t do well and lost the series 3-0, the Pakistani skipper Dar was taken by surprise to see the support for her girls at all three venues.

“The support we got from the crowd so far in this tour has been amazing, grounds have been quite full which is not seen very often other than the global tournaments. So far, we have enjoyed the fans' support and appreciation. Overall, the focus on women cricket around the world has been strong and female cricketers definitely needed that to get more exposure,” she said.

Pakistan men’s cricket team has always enjoyed a huge fan base in Birmingham and Leeds, whose neighbouring town is Bradford, and both Brimingham and Bradford are known as mini Pakistans due to the high percentage of community originating from Pakistan and Kashmir.

But this time, even the Pakistan women’s team had the strong backing from the diaspora community which was a real booster for Dar and her team as they are looking to improve their performance specially in the batting department during the ODI series.

“Fans have been very supportive, they’ve been speaking to us, backing us up which is a very positive sign and a real morale and confidence booster. I’m extremely happy that we played in front of some amazing spectators. It is also heartening to see that so many of them came not to support Pakistan or any team but only cricket”, said Dar.

England captain Heather Knight is also delighted to see huge crowds turning up for women’s games. Last year she captained England at Edgbaston in front of more than 20,000 which was the biggest turnout for a women’s game in the country outside of ICC tournaments. In Heather’s opinion, these numbers suggest that women’s cricket is blooming across the globe and bilateral international games can be arranged at bigger stadiums.

“It’s one of the best atmospheres to play under where people come to the grounds in big numbers to watch women's cricket and it is a new norm now. We are playing at big stadiums and in prime time so it’s really cool that people come to watch us in action.

"Great to get such good support from the fans. I’m sure we put up a show to entertain people and make them come back to watch cricket in future. The crowds have been consistent as Pakistan has also got a huge fan base all over the world,” she said.

Figures released by management of Birmingham’s Edgbaston Stadium and Headingley Stadium in Leeds suggest that a record number of spectators flocked to watch women's T20I games. During the first game of the three match T20I series at Edgbaston on May 11 more than 12,000 fans came to watch the female teams in action. This is the highest ever crowd for a women’s game in a bilateral series between Pakistan and England anywhere in the world.

More importantly, 48% of tickets were bought by women which is almost half of the total attendance and now a new record of female spectators, which is also a new record of any bilateral women game at this venue.

Meanwhile, for the final game of the T20I series at Leeds’ Headingley stadium, more than 10,000 tickets were sold which is a new record for a women’s international match at this ground. In a statement Stephen Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, described the crowd and the atmosphere around the Headingley stadium during the match as awesome.

“You could feel it walking around the ground. It was a really great crowd, with people from all communities, families and children, and lots of smiling faces. I hope the girls watching from the stands will be inspired to go on to pick up a bat and ball if they haven’t already and go on to play cricket, either recreationally or at a higher level potentially enjoying rewarding careers in the sport."