It can be lonely in the changing areas. Isa Guha was the only girl on an all-boys cricket team when she first began playing, and then, when she was just a little older, she was the only girl on an all-women cricket team. In her ten years of international cricket, many of the women she played with and against had similar stories. Ten years later, in her second job as a presenter and commentator, many of the women she watches and discusses have similar stories.
Being the only female member of a squad is still fairly typical, according to Guha. Because I was spending so much time outside of my comfort zone, it undoubtedly helped my cricket, but the feelings of loneliness persisted.
Guha established the non-profit mentorship organisation Take Her Lead last year to support women’s cricket. They conducted a survey of 300 adolescent female cricket players before the launch to learn more about their experiences. According to Guha, “I know we all feel we have a fairly good idea of what’s going on, but there’s nothing like speaking to people who are coming into the game, and we were surprised that the experiences they were talking about were the same experiences our mentors had when they were growing up. It helped me realise that the sport hasn’t advanced as much as we might have thought.
They related tales of finding it difficult to speak to any of their teammates or coaches about how they were feeling while wearing whites due to their periods.
According to statistics that are frequently cited, 30% of cricket players in England are South Asian. However, women’s and men’s cricket must be considered separately, she adds. The study conducted by Take Her Lead aims to assist with that. The result is that “five players from minority backgrounds have played for England women, so you have to ask “Why?”,” she claims, adding that “the number is much smaller on the women’s side.”
Guha has given that a great deal of thought. She adds, “In the last few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I was able to succeed when there was such a lack of representation at the England level. “When I asked myself how I managed to navigate the system, I realised it was due to the support I received, particularly from my mother. She wasn’t the only one who gave me the assurance and belief that I could accomplish what I achieved.
Take Her Lead is, in part, a remembrance of her mother Roma, who passed away in 2019, and an effort to give girls who don’t already have it in their own lives the same kind of support she provided her children. Got Your Support, their first project, debuted on Tuesday.
When I heard about the experiences of those young females, I reflected, “Yeah, I certainly felt that when I was younger, but was I supported to come through it? Perhaps those females aren’t understanding that, and that is why they are leaving the game. The goal of Got Your Back is to increase knowledge and consciousness of what can be done by everyone in the industry to better entice women and girls to participate.
The current state of women’s cricket is peculiar. The game is evolving quickly. Guha recently travelled to South Africa to work on the World Cup for women’s T20. “When we were on tour here last, in 2011, we would have 100 people come to the ground to observe,” the speaker said. Nearly 13,000 people showed up to witness the final twelve years later. “Seeing a packed house and all the local community’s support for the squad made me feel so proud. It was very affecting.