From pastime to fully-fledged professionalism, Shabnim is part of cricket's growth
CAPE TOWN – Shabnim Ismail bowled her first ball in women’s international cricket 13 years ago back in 2007. It may well have been an entirely different game back then.
Ismail, 31, has experienced all the aches and pains of the women’s game shifting from a virtual recreational pastime to fully-fledged professionalism.
This has undoubtedly played a major role in the Proteas team now being among the most competitive in the world, highlighted by their impressive showing at the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year when they narrowly lost to eventual champions Australia in the semi-final.
Ismail, though, also believes the culture change within the Proteas dressing room over the years has been significant factor in achieving this success, especially with youngsters like Laura Wolvaardt, Nadine de Klerk and Nonkululeko Mlaba shining alongside veterans such as Ismail, Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp and Mignon du Preez.
“Obviously when I started I was very young. I was 17/18 years old. I remember coming into the side at that time and it was very difficult for me. They used to make me do the laundry. They used to bully me, obviously trying to make me scared. It was very difficult,” the South African Women’s T20 Cricketer of the Year said.
“But for the youngsters coming into the side now we have spoken about we need to make them feel comfortable so they can play at their best ability. If we are not making the youngsters feel comfortable, how can we expect them to perform?”
Ismail is certainly part of the Proteas core and plays an integral role with the new ball in both T20Is and ODIs forming a potent partnership with Kapp. There are, however, promising youngsters such as De Klerk among others pushing for a more permanent place in the Proteas side.
The exit lounge, though, seems far from her thoughts just yet, especially with the possible rule change that could see the pitch shortened and ball lightened respectively for women’s cricket.
“Although I am turning 32 I still firmly believe I have a good couple of years to play cricket. I believe if you keep fit because not many people see what you do behind the scenes,” Ismail said defiantly.
“I would definitely love that (the rule changes). It would be great for me as the fastest bowler to have a smaller ball and shorter pitch. I think I would then definitely be clocking 130km/h every ball that I bowl.”@ZaahierAdams