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I play cricket like a girl – try and keep up?!

Updated: Mar 13


Growing up, I spent endless weekends glued to the TV watching … cricket – yessssss, cricket (!!) as South Africa prepared to battle for supremacy in an intriguing series against England. I remember the excitement and nervousness as we cheered our team on – yelling, shrieking, and arguing with the TV screen (and at each other!!) - during the nail-biting moments.


📷 Central Gauteng Lions U13 | Age: 12

The marvellous scent of a good old-fashioned South African braai wafting through the open window, as thoroughly absorbed (and verging on the obsessive!), we followed the men dressed all in white - hit, chase, and catch the same red ball, running back and forth between the wickets.


Strangely fascinating with its complex/bizarre rules and traditions, cricket can be baffling for the non-cricket fan especially with many wonderfully weird terms like googly, silly mid-on, dibbly-dobbly and yorker that can be interpreted VERY differently.





Come on – does anyone really know what a googly is (?!) and, a Yorker is obviously someone from Yorkshire – duh?! Giggle, giggle. Chuckle, chuckle.



MEN ONLY, PLEASE

Cricket began as a gentleman’s sport - invented ‘by Gentleman, for Gentleman’, guaranteeing a ‘Gentleman’s experience’ (whatever that means?!!).


According to these gentlemanly gentlemen, cricket wasn’t for girls. In fact, the only way

a woman could gain access to cricket was if she was working as a waitress at the cricket grounds and clubs.


Women playing cricket? That's absurd, like a man trying to knit!

Sir Leonard Hutton (1963)



📷 Central Gauteng Lions U13 | Age: 12

Restricted solely to men, the very idea of women playing cricket was considered outrageously absurd and rather unladylike.


Gone are those days … thank goodness (!!), as cricket isn't just a game for boys anymore.


It may be a male-dominated game, but that’s certainly no reason girls can’t play it!


Yes, I am a girl. Yes, I play cricket!


#THISGIRLCAN PLAY CRICKET

It is very clear cricket is no longer for men only, with the game giving rise to some phenomenal female cricketers like 15-year-old Diara Ramlakan - one of the youngest players in the South Africa Under-19s Women’s Cricket Team and Central Gauteng Lions Women’s (County Cricket) Team.


With two South African caps already under her belt, #thisgirlcan play cricket and she can certainly hit a ball scoring her first century at the age of 14.


📷 Randburg Cricket Club vs Khoza Cricket Club | Age: 14

She is a powerful cricketer who demonstrates technique, talent, timing, and placement! Mentally strong, technically sound and a talented all-rounder, Diara is consistently breaking barriers.


She was just seven years old when she knew she wanted to be part of the sport. At the age of ten, with no equivalent same sex team available at school, Diara was the only girl on the boys' cricket team.


Fast forward a few years, at the age of 13, she became the first-ever female to captain her school's boys' team!!


She racked up her first 50 at a school night festival and was awarded ‘Man of the Match’. Another first as it was the first time that this award was given to a girl.




From that moment, she knew cricket was going to be her passion. The game became her focal point as she spent every spare moment playing cricket, hungry and eager to play for her county and one day, for her country!



I DON'T LIKE CRICKET - OH NO, I LOVE IT!

Competition is tough especially as she’s always been the youngest in the team and on the field. She has had to work much harder just to keep up with the sheer force and brute strength of the older girls; however, she is her own greatest competition.


Be your own best competition," she says, “If you work hard enough, stay focussed on what you are doing and what you want to accomplish, the results will come automatically.

📷 Central Gauteng Lions U16 | Age: 14

She is under no illusion that achieving greatness takes incredibly hard work, but nothing’s going to stop this fiercely determined 15-year-old, from realising her dream!


Diara describes herself as an all-in type of person and will stop at nothing to get what she wants!


Her exercise regime is intense as she trains seven days a week to prepare physically and mentally for each game.


She is extraordinarily motivated to succeed and has a clear vision of what she wants her life to look like and who she wants to be.



I go out there and play for me, my team and for the love of the game! It’s super fun and I try to enjoy each moment!

One of my most cherished moments is my first ever huddle with the South African National Team before the match started. I remember my coach telling the players to soak in every moment, and when I made my debut, it certainly topped my list of major milestones!”

📷 SA U19 Vs Namibia 2022 | Age 15

She has always been fascinated by the great intricacy of the game particularly the ebb and flow of the battle between ball and bat.


“It’s like putting an intricate jigsaw puzzle together, piece by piece,” she says.


It’s such a thrilling experience with new surprises and challenges at every turn. You need a little bit of luck and a whole lot of patience and persistence.


You never give up. You stay consistently focussed, positive, and strong no matter the situation!”


Undeterred and filled with the confidence of youth, the mind games seem to be a feast for her soul and spur her on in her eternal battle to be the best player she can be.



DEALING WITH GAME PRESSURE

Diara has always had great confidence in her own abilities, and has kept her eye firmly on the prize.


Diara’s parents (and her biggest fans!!) have supported her talent unconditionally with positive encouragement every step of the way, not that she needed any pushing?!


They have helped her on her journey by navigating through the disappointments without putting too much pressure or setting excessively high expectations; letting Diara know that making mistakes is not a failure, and that disappointment is an inevitable part of life.


Showing up and giving herself to the game wholeheartedly, regardless of the outcome, is always a WIN!

CRICKET ISN'T FOR GIRLS

Diara is a strong and intelligent player yet still so young. Her path to becoming one of South Africa’s most formidable female cricketers is a remarkable tale to inspire the next generation of girls in sport.


📸 Current Central Gauteng Lions Women's Squad 2022/2023 | Diara Ramlakan (fourth from the bottom)

Some of the female players that have inspired Diara on her journey into cricket include The Proteas’ Shabnam Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt and Dane van Niekerk as well as male idols, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plesis and Kagiso Rabada.


Unbeknownst to her, she is also pitching for equality and dispelling the myth: ‘Cricket isn’t for girls!'


Girls have as much right as boys to play cricket.

But perhaps even more significantly she has become a visible cricket role model for young girls. "When I was growing up, we really didn’t get to see any female cricketers; or anyone who looked like me, really?! "


Having relatable and powerful role models to look up to is inspirational and empowering for younger players interested in cricket as a sport or professional career.


Female role models help promote female talent and are vital to encourage more girls to play sport.


You can’t be what you can’t see!

Representation and role models in sport matters!


In achieving this milestone, 15-year-old Diara strengthens that example.



SHE CAN PLAY AS GOOD AS ANY BOY

The women’s game is on the upward trend with women's cricket making its Commonwealth Games debut at Birmingham 2022. It was the first time (ever!) that women’s T20 cricket and the women’s game featured at a Commonwealth Games … woo-hoo!!!


📷 Central Gauteng Lions U16 | Age: 14

Bold batting, huge sixes, brilliant catches, bigger scores told us how women’s cricket has evolved AND that female cricketers are as skilful and as strong as their male counterparts – if not better, dare I say! Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.


Women’s cricket deserves our serious attention!


Although, the women’s game has shown remarkable progress, disparities still exist between men's and women's cricket as sadly, female players remain largely unsung and unrecognised in all departments of the game.


Diara hopes the changing face/pace of women’s cricket will help transform perceptions/change attitudes towards the women’s game.


📷 Central Gauteng Lions U13 | Age: 10

What’s next on the list for this super-talented cricket youngster who only just embarked on her international and domestic career?


It seems Diara has her heart set on getting in on the cricket action at The 2023 ICC U19 Women's T20 World Cup to be held in South Africa.


Can you imagine representing your country at one of the biggest cricket tournaments in the world - on home soil, and still so young?


Well, this 15-year-old is ready to take on the world, and this is just the beginning.


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