India’s GS Lakshmi has become the first female match referee after the International Cricket Council (ICC) named the 51-year-old in its list of elite match officials on Tuesday.
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Earlier this month, Australian Claire Polosak became the first woman to officiate in a men’s one-day international in the final of the World Cricket League Division 2 in Windhoek.
"We are committed to ensuring greater gender parity among our officials, but all appointments are made purely on merit," Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager - Umpires and Referees, said in a statement.
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Lakshmi, 51, who first officiated as a match referee in domestic women's cricket in 2008-09, has overseen three women's ODI matches and three women's T20I matches.
"To be selected in the international panel by the ICC is a huge honour for me as it opens up new avenues. I have had a long career as a cricketer in India and also as a Match Referee. I hope to put my experience both as a player and as a match official to good use on the international circuit," said Lakshmi in an ICC statement.
In pic: GS Lakshmi with captains Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur ahead of the final, Supernovas v Velocity, Women's T20 challenge final.
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Born in Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, Lakshmi grew up in the steel city of Jamshedpur where her father was working. She was an outswing bowler for Railways. Lakshmi never played for India, but was part of the national squad during India's tour of England in 1999. After retiring in 2004, Lakshmi started coaching, South Central Railways for ten years. In 2008, BCCI introduced female referees in women's domestic games, and Lakshmi made a debut that season along with former India cricketers Rajani Venugopal, Rajesh Nayyar, Nilima Joglekar and Gargi Banerjee.
In 2014, Lakshmi was selected to stand in boys' and men's domestic games by BCCI.
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Australia's Eloise Sheridan has joined compatriot Polosak on the ICC development panel of umpires, taking the number of women on that panel to seven. Adrian Griffith hailed Lakshmi and Sheridan's appointment. "We welcome Lakshmi and Eloise to our panels, which is an important step forward in our commitment to encouraging women officials. It is heartening to see their progress and I am sure many more women will be inspired to follow their example.