The International Cricket Council (ICC) women’s qualifier Asia 2019 is the start of the qualification journey for China, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and the UAE who are all competing for top spot to secure a place in both the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2020.
27 teams will take part across five regional events, which act as a dual qualifier. The Asia qualifier takes place between February 18 and February 27 across two venues; the Terdthai Cricket Ground and the Asian Institute Technology Ground in Bangkok.
Teams will also be competing to climb the ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings with a total of 21 Women’s T20 internationals being played in the tournament.
Thailand captain, Sornnarin Tippoch who started playing cricket in 2007 after a transition from softball, who also plays an important role in the growth of cricket in Thailand as a Regional Development Officer looks ahead to the tournament.
“It is always a proud moment for the team and myself to be able to represent our country. As the ICC tournaments are the start of the pathway into both T20 and 50 over World Cups, it makes the journey more exciting and special to know that we are just a few steps away from contending with the best in the world,” Tippoch said.
“With that being said we are working hard at our game and committed to being considered as a top quality side. Cricket is a beautiful game, the sport has opened up a lot of opportunities for me and helped me grow as an athlete and as a human being,” she added.
Nepal captain, Rubina Chhetry Belbashi recalls her first memory as a nine-year-old of playing the game. “There was a ground near to my home where my cousins and brothers used to play. I would sit on my balcony and watch them play, my brother saw the craziness in me about cricket and took me to the ground and that's how it all started. Being so passionate about cricket this is a great opportunity to be part of such tournaments and even more so as it is a pathway to the ultimate dream of a World Cup.”
Kuwait captain, Maryam Omar who is a Civil Engineer, was introduced to cricket nine years ago when Kuwait Cricket held a summer camp at her school and she became a part of the Kuwait Cricket journey.
“My P.E teacher always sensed some potential in me since she always thought that I was a bright athlete. Although cricket was not widely played by people in the Arab world, my mother was the main reason behind my success, as she encouraged me to get involved because she realized that I was a very active child and knew that by getting involved in sports it would keep me out of trouble,” Omar said.
“I personally feel very privileged to be able to lead Kuwait, at such a grand event. Women cricketers in Kuwait have a lot of potential and talent, tournaments like this will definitely support us and spark our ambition to get better,” she added.
Hong Kong captain, Mariko Hill who alongside her captain duties also works in the Dietary Supplement industry is thrilled on being getting onto the field again. “It means a lot to play in this tournament as there are high stakes for both T20 and ODI qualification. I remember when I started playing cricket in a grassroots program at The Hong Kong Cricket Club with my elder brother in 2007. Being the only girl, I wanted to prove the boys wrong about the preconceived idea of girls not being able to play the sport. And now cricket is a vehicle for equal opportunities, no matter your age, gender or ethnicity.”
China captain, Huang Zhou was attracted to cricket because of the high standard of the physical and mental requirement of the sport, as well as teamwork and she is excited to be playing in an ICC tournament. “It is a very good opportunity for us a team to participate in this tournament. Cricket is fairly new in China and all the players are trying hard to achieve the most and perform the best they can.”
Malaysia captain, Winifred Anne Duraisingam who recalls playing street cricket outside the front of her house with her family and neighbours, made her debut for Malaysia aged just 14. "Playing in this tournament is a great experience for us, we are all working really hard to make our country proud and qualify for the next stage."
The other four regional events will take place over the next four months where these teams will also embark on their journey, before the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 later this year.
ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa 2019 is slated to be held in Zimbabwe from May 5 to 12, ICC Women’s Qualifier EAP 2019 will be held in Vanuatu from May 6 to 11.
While the American leg of qualifiers will take place in USA from May 17 to 19, the Europe qualifiers are scheduled to be held in Spain from June 24 to 30. (ANI)