G.S. Lakshmi
G.S. Lakshmi (centre) Image Credit: ICC

Sharjah: Come Sunday (December 8), men’s cricket will no longer be a male-only supervised event. G.S. Lakshmi of India will become the first female official in history to oversee a men’s One Day International as match referee when the UAE take on USA in the third series of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

This stadium, which has many firsts to its credit as the venue which has hosted the maximum number of One Day Internationals and also a neutral Test centre and has hosted all formats of the game, will hence add another landmark to its history.

The 51-year-old Lakshmi, who was inducted as the first woman into the ICC International Panel of Match Referees in May, had officiated as a match referee in domestic women’s cricket in 2008-09 and has overseen three women’s ODI matches, 16 men’s T20 Internationals and seven women’s T20 Internationals.

Speaking about her historic role, Lakshmi said: “It feels great, having anything assigned first to your name gives me a sense of pride. This being a big ICC event (ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2), it feels great to be officiating at this level.”

Lakshmi, like many women cricketers, developed a liking for the game by playing with her brothers and friends. She got into the college team as a bowler and played for her state Andhra Pradesh in domestic cricket for 18 years. Known among colleagues as ‘Laksh,’ she was a right arm fast and right-hand batswoman.

Lakshmi now wants many more women to follow her footsteps to officiate the game.

“These qualification events provide a good platform to prepare officials and provide them opportunities to gain valuable experience. I hope my promotion to the ICC International Panel of Match Referees and records like this can inspire many women. This is definitely another career opportunity for women.”

Incidentally, the first-ever woman umpire in a men’s ODI was Claire Polosak of Australia, who officiated the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in April 2019.