Cricketer who had to pretend to be a boy to play as a child makes history in Australia


After signing with the Sydney Thunder, Nida Dar becomes the first female cricketer from Pakistan to play in an international league - but playing the sport she loved growing up came with its challenges.

Nida Dar was raised in Pakistan during a difficult time for girls who liked sport.

In the early days of her cricket career - playing with her brother and cousins in the streets - it was only because others thought she was a boy that she was able to play at all.

"Nobody knew I was a girl, so I carried on playing with the boys,” the 32-year-old told SBS News this week.

“Everybody [thinks] that ‘a very little boy is playing with us’.”

“When they came to know that I am a girl, they were inspired by me, that a girl was playing. They wanted me to play everytime.”

Nida Dar
Nida Dar is the first Pakistani female cricketer to play in the WBBL.
SBS - John Baldock

She longed for there to be a women’s cricket team to look up to in Pakistan, but even her own brother advised it was unlikely.

“It’s a bit conservative in Pakistan, so that’s why he said ‘no, there’s no career for the girls, so you should not try this thing’.”

Because of the lack of female role models, she drew her inspiration from popular male Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi - nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’ for his aggressive style of batting.

“I had a wish that one day I could be a female cricketer for Pakistan just like Shahid," she said.

Her wish would eventually come true.

Pakistan founded an international women’s cricket team in 1997 and all-rounder Dar made her one-day and T20 international debuts in 2010.

With 88 T20 international wickets (a joint national record) and a strike rate of 96.27, she’s now referred to by fans as ‘Lady Boom Boom’.

Her move to join the Sydney Thunder sees her become the first Pakistani international to play in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).

She's also the first Pakistani woman to be signed by an international cricket league anywhere in the world.

Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin says Dar's skills speak for themselves.

"She can take the game away from the opposition very quickly and I'm sure when she gets her opportunity with the bat, she'll go out and showcase her talent," he said.

Nida Dar in the nets
Nida Dar hitting out in the practice nets.
SBS-John Baldock

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is now well aware of the growth potential of women's cricket in the country. For the first time, money is being set aside to ensure more players follow in Dar's footsteps.

But, she says, more can still be done.

"The facilities are much less for the girls, but the PCB is starting to help them in schools and clubs, so it’s changing slowly."

“It’s a big responsibility for me that I'm the first from Pakistan and I want to grab more experience from here and share it to them."

Dar has already taken four wickets in her opening two WBBL matches so fans have had a small taste of what's to come.

But, she says, if the WBBL wants to stay the number one league of its kind in the world, it needs to contiunue bringing in overseas talent.

"If you want to go to the next step, you should grab the girls from other countries," she said.

She’s inspired by the changes she’s seen in Pakistan since the days she let people think she was a boy to be able to play cricket in the street.

“Things have really changed now in Pakistan, and whenever they saw us on the TV or on social media whenever we are getting awards, a lot of people take interest.”

“Nowadays, a lot of girls are messaging me on social media [saying] ‘I want to be a cricket star’, it’s a very, very good thing”

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