The 17-year-old is no ordinary Scottish schoolgirl. The aspiring cricketer, who is a sixth-year student at Glasgow High School, was part of the first-ever Scotland women’s Under-19 team at the World Cup, played in Johannesburg earlier this year.
As a member of the team of 15, Faisal flew to Spain for a warm-weather pre-tournament camp before flying to South Africa for the actual competition. Scotland failed to make the Super Six stage after losses to the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and India but ended the inaugural ICC Women’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup with a dramatic five-wicket triumph over the USA.
Head coach Peter Ross was pleased with the team’s performances in South Africa and Faisal believes she has gained a lot from the experience. Learning how to function in a pressured environment and facing some of the best young cricketers in the world have been some of the biggest benefits, she says, while it’s not lost on her the importance of staying mentally resilient when the going gets tough comes.
“The World Cup was a very different environment than any I’ve ever played in,” said Faisal. “We had a police escort and security guards when we were out in public and at games. There were many cameras and all our games were streamed live so everyone around the world could see us play.
“My favorite moment was hitting the catches of two prominent batsmen against South Africa and against Sri Lanka.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned on the tour was the importance of being mentally strong in sport, especially in a sport like cricket.
“The World Cup is a high-pressure environment, you play against some of the best players in the world and of course you start to doubt yourself.
“But if I go on the pitch with a dejected attitude, I’ll lose the game before it even started. So I had to learn to trust my abilities, trust my abilities and believe in myself.”
Faisal plays her home cricket for two sides, Clydesdale and West of Scotland Cricket Club, but was not always keen on the sport. After imitating her brother and picking up the racquet at the age of eight, Faisal admits she dragged her heels in her early years on the field.
The reason is simple: Faisal was a girl (and often the only one) who played a male-dominated sport. That all changed during her early youth in South Africa when Cricket Club Warriors selected her for their under-18 side – something which Faisal admits acted as a catalyst for her passion for the sport.
While playing for Warriors, Faisal also began volunteering at the Duduza Multipurpose Community Center (run by ICC and UNICEF), where she helped coach over 100 children, including many girls.
She believes the launch of the women’s U19-T20 World Cup and the increased interest in women’s franchise cricket can only be a good thing and hopes other young girls will follow in her footsteps.
“I just wanted to do everything [my brother] did,” Faisal said of her start in the sport.
“Traditionally, cricket has been considered a male sport and many girls are reluctant to play it. But what people forget is that sport is not gender specific, it is for everyone. Girls should try cricket like they would any other sport.”
Faisal has donated one of their international jerseys to their school in recognition of the role it has played in their development. She plans to study medicine but is also aspiring to pick up a cap for Scotland’s senior team – and she knows that if her dream is realized, her path to the top will not be one she has walked alone.
She added: “Encouraging me to play boys cricket, helping me form a girls cricket team that now competes in national tournaments and taking the time and effort [PE teacher] Mr Leggat not only coached me but also helped me through the mental aspect of cricket to get to where I am today.
Kenneth Robertson, Head of the High School of Glasgow, was grateful for Faisal’s generosity.
“We are incredibly proud of Maryam for being selected to be part of the ICC Women’s U19 T20 Cricket World Cup Scotland team,” he said. “Playing at this level against some of the best teams in the world is a huge achievement.
“On behalf of the high school, we are deeply honored to be presented with one of Maryam’s international leaders. This will be proudly displayed in the Senior School and will inspire many more young cricketers to put on their whites.”
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/23370564.glasgow-student-blazing-trail-scots-girls-cricket/?ref=rss The Glasgow student is pioneering Scottish girls’ cricket