India’s Lakshmi becomes the first woman in ICC’s panel of referees
GS Lakshmi, who on Tuesday became the first woman to be included in ICC’s international panel of match referees, feels her elevation is a step forward for women’s cricket. It comes on the heels of Australia’s Claire Polosak, who became the first woman to stand in a men’s ODI this month.
Lakshmi, who was part of the India squad which toured England in 1999 but didn’t get to play, was among the five who were shortlisted from the more than 100 women who took the match officials’ test held under the supervision of former ICC Elite Panel umpire Simon Taufel in 2014.
“I have been a referee in women’s domestic cricket since 2008 (when BCCI began posting women) and was sort of expecting this promotion. However, I didn’t know it would come so soon. It is yet to sink in,” said Lakshmi, 51, who played for Bihar, East Zone, Andhra and South Zone, from 1986 to 2004.
Employed with South Central Railway since 1989, the Hyderabad-based Lakshmi had continued playing as a mother. “My mother would take care of my daughter while I was away playing. A lot of credit must go to her for ensuring I continued with cricket as a career.”
Her career began with Bihar. She then shifted to Hyderabad, playing for South Central Railway and Andhra. Her appointment means women’s matches, which either had male referees for tournaments like World Cup or women as match managers who reported to male referee Graeme Labrooy, will now have a women’s match referee. She should also be able to officiate in men’s internationals though there has been no communication.
“I have not received details as yet regarding the matches I’ll do,” said Lakshmi, who has officiated in over 100 matches, including in U-16 and U-19 boys’ matches.
“Since 2014, we (the shortlisted five) have been officiating as match managers (in bilateral series) reporting to Labrooy. Now that we have a match referee, it will be different,” she said.
Until now, former India pacer, Javagal Srinath, had been India’s lone member in ICC’s international panel of match referees, whose strength now goes to eight.