'Its a special feeling' says Suvarna Lakshmi after becoming ICC's first female match referee

Suvarna Lakshmi says the news came as a huge, pleasant surprise after being named as the first woman on the ICC panel of match referees.

Suvarna Lakshmi was part of India's tour of England in 1999 but never played a game and remained uncapped.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Former South Central Railways cricketer G. Suvarna Lakshmi says that she will excel as a match-winner at the highest level for what she failed to achieve as a player.

In an exclusive interview with Sportstar, the 50-year-old former South Central Railway player says the news came as a huge, pleasant surprise after being named as the first woman on the ICC panel of match referees.

READ | India’s GS Lakshmi welcomed as ICC's first female match referee

“Honestly, I was not expecting this. I was nominated by the BCCI last year also. I am sincerely thankful to the BCCI for nominating me again this year,” says a visibly elated Lakshmi.

“Well, any tag of being the first to achieve something gives you that special feeling. And, I am no exception,” she says. “Now, the dream is to officiate in a World Cup,” she adds with a big smile.

“Definitely, there was that huge disappointment of not playing for India though I was a member of the Indian team on the 1999 tour to England,” says the former medium-pace all-rounder. Interestingly, that was the tour when Mithali Raj made her ODI debut scoring a century.

“My cricketing career began in Tata Nagar when my father was working in TELCO. But, only when I moved over to Hyderabad and got a job in the SCR in 1989, I stepped into the next level in the sport,” says the Chief Office Superintendent in SCR. “And, I owe everything to my mother Vijayalakshmi who is with me now,” she added.

Interestingly, Lakshmi was the match-manager assisting the match referee for a few ODIs and T20 internationals and says that experience helped a lot.

“I remember in 2008 when the BCCI first initiated the move to have exclusive set of match referees for women’s cricket. Myself and fellow Hyderabadi Rajani Venugopal were among the five who were selected from the 120 who wrote the exam,” she recalled.

The Rajahmundry-born cricketer makes it a point to thank late T.N. Pillay, organising secretary of the then APWCA and also the then Secretary Jyothi Joshi for supporting women’s cricket back in the days when not many were willing to take them seriously.