Claire Polosak, who became the first female umpire to officiate in a men's ODI last year, will pair with Menon in the game between former champions West Indies and first-timers Thailand on February 22. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Women power is all set to triumph in the upcoming ICC Women's World T20 which will be held in Australia on Februay 21. An unprecedented six women will be in the match officials team for the tournament. India's GS Lakshmi will become the first woman match referee at a global ICC event. Lauren Agenbag, Kim Cotton, Claire Polosak, Sue Redfern and Jacqueline Williams are the women umpires named for the eight-team competition. Williams will stand along with Shaun George in the high-profile tournament opener between Australia and India on February 21, soon after becoming the first woman to officiate as a third umpire in a men's international cricket match, according to an ICC release.
Polosak, who became the first female umpire to officiate in a men's ODI last year, will pair with Menon in the game between former champions West Indies and first-timers Thailand on February 22. The fixture will also have Lakshmi officiate two months after becoming the first female match referee in a men's ODI.
"This is the largest compliment of women match officials at a single event, and the progress we have made is heartening...it is because of their skillset and hard work that they have graduated to the top level," said Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager, Umpires and Referees. The appointments for the semi-finals will be announced at the end of the league stage and those for the final will be finalised after the semi-finals. Apart from GS Lakshmi, the other match referees are Steve Bernard and Chris Broad, with Broad being the senior-most referee in the entire group.
Polosak has been championing female officiating and has been a path breaker before too. She was the first woman to stand in a men's domestic fixture in Australia in her first List A match in Australia in 2017. In December last year, she and her South Australian counterpart Eloise Sheridan became the first female umpires to officiate on-field together during a professional match in Australia when the Adelaide Strikers hosted the Melbourne Stars in the Women Big Bash League.
India's GS Lakshmi will become the first woman match referee at a global ICC event. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Polosak was exuberant at the impending milestone. "I am thrilled to be the first woman to stand in a men's ODI and how far I have come as an umpire. It really is important to promote women umpires and there's no reason why females can't umpire in cricket. It's about breaking down barriers, creating awareness so more females can come into the role," Polosak said.
For women’s cricket, the current period is considered as their golden era of growth. All women’s international matches get extensive coverage, although not on par with men’s cricket yet. The Women’s Big Bash League in Australia is the most followed while India’s women cricketers are making giant strides thanks to the exploits of Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj, Poonam Yadav and other players.