New Delhi: In a significant first for world cricket, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday named an all-female panel of match officials, including three from India, for the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, to be held from February 10-26 in South Africa.
Three match referees and 10 umpires make up the 13-woman team in what is a landmark moment for women in cricket. Three of those 13 officials will be Indians — match referee GS Lakshmi and two umpires, Vrinda Rathi and N Janani.
Lakshmi, one of three match referees in the upcoming tournament, passed a decade of refereeing in T20Is last year. Vrinda and Janani will be umpiring at a T20 World Cup for the first time ever.
“We are thrilled to announce this panel of match officials for the Women’s T20 World Cup. Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level.”
“This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport. We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament,” said Wasim Khan, ICC General Manager – Cricket.
The panel for the upcoming Women’s T20 World Cup includes seven first-timers in the event and this announcement comes after a constant rise in the number of women officiating in global tournaments.
Eight women officials were involved in the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 and the Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, while nine women have been involved in the ongoing ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
“When young women and girls see it, they believe that they can be it. That’s just one of the reasons why having this match officials panel is so special. It shows the next generation that there is a career and a pathway that takes them to the very top of the game, the World Cup, even if you’re not a player. It shows that there are so many ways to get involved,” said Snehal Pradhan, ICC Manager – Women’s Cricket.
Claire Polosak is the most experienced of the umpires, selected as she continues her record of officiating in every Women’s World Cup, T20 and ODI, since 2016. The 34-year-old Australian will be officiating in her fourth T20 World Cup, while Sue Redfern of England, Jacqueline Williams of the West Indies, and Kim Cotton of New Zealand will be involved in their third Women’s T20 World Cups.
Lauren Agenbag will get the chance to umpire at a World Cup on home soil with the South African selected for her second T20 World Cup with match referee Shandre Fritz to oversee games in her home country at her debut T20 World Cup. Fritz had represented the Proteas on home soil as a player at the 2005 Women’s Cricket World Cup.
The South African duo were a part of the match officials’ team for the first game of the Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand last year as Fritz made her World Cup bow, while Agenbag continued her impressive rise having previously become the first woman from her country to umpire a T20I.
Meanwhile, Michell Pereira of Sri Lanka will take charge of her first-ever T20I at the 2023 World Cup which gets underway on February 10 as hosts South Africa take on Sri Lanka in Cape Town.
England’s Anna Harris is the youngest of the umpires at just 24 years old as she makes her debut at a major ICC event, while Eloise Sheridan of Australia and Nimali Perera of Sri Lanka will be umpiring in the T20 World Cup for the first time.
Match Officials at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023
Match Referees: GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa), Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka)
Umpires: Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (New Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India), Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka)