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Isa Guha: First Asian in the England cricket team

19 February, 2021 11:14:43
Isa Guha: First Asian in the England cricket team

There is a very interesting history about the Ashes series. Cricket buffs never tire of having a good laugh at the expense of two countries – England and Australia. It all started in 1882 when the Australian team won the first Test against England by 7 runs on English soil. This defeat was published as the satirical obituary by journalist Shirley Brooks in 'The Sporting Times'. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and ‘the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.’ So the term 'Ashes' originated satirically.

When England went to Australia the same year after this defeat and won the series 2–1, the victory was described as bringing Ash (ash) back to England. From here, the Test series between the two countries came to be called the Ashes Series. Like their male counterparts, the rivalry between England and Aussie women grew bigger too. Started in 1934, the rivalry officially came to be known as ‘Women Ashes’ in 1998, when a ceremony took place in the Harris Gardens at Lord’s. Isa Guha, a Bengali girl, was part of the British contingent that played in the Ashes Test series against Australia. She was the first woman of Asian heritage to break into the England cricket team. Guha's parents moved to the UK in the 1970s from Kolkata and settled in High Wycombe, England. She was born on May 21, 1985. 

Isa Guha, a Bengali girl, was part of the British contingent that played in the Ashes Test series against Australia. She was the first woman of Asian heritage to break into the England cricket team.

Isa started playing cricket with her older brother when she was about eight and was selected for the Development England side at 13. A right arm fast-medium bowler, Guha made her international debut at the age of 17 in the women's Tri-Series against India and New Zealand in 2002. She performed well in the series, taking three wickets against New Zealand in the final.  Her brilliant performance was immediately noticed by the sports fraternity and she was named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. Incidentally, on her debut, Isa became the first female British Asian to represent England in any sport. 

Guha was intrinsic to England's success in their five-match one-day series against New Zealand in 2004, and took 5 for 22 in the fourth match, as England wrapped up the series. She took five wickets in the Test series and eight in the ODIs against India in 2006. As a World Cup winner in the One-Day and T20 format and a three-time Ashes winner, Isa became the ICC Ranked No.1 bowler in 2008. Meanwhile, she continued her studies and graduated in biochemistry and molecular biology from University College London and did MPhil in Neuroscience from the same institution.

Guha’s decade-long cricketing career is quite impressive. She was part of the England team and played eight Test matches, 83 one-day matches and 22 T-20 matches in her decade-long career. In the eight Test series, she got 29 wickets, in the 83 one-day matches, she took 101 wickets and in the 22 T-20 matches, she took 18 wickets. She was part of the England team which won the 2009 World Cup.

She announced her retirement from international cricket on 9 March 2012, although she said she would continue to play county cricket for Berkshire. Since retirement in 2012 and following her hosting debut for ITV’s coverage of the IPL, Isa rapidly established herself as a familiar face in cricket broadcasting across the globe. Isa’s international appeal landed her several groundbreaking opportunities making her the first woman to commentate on an Indian Test Series for Star Sports and on any global T20 men’s fixture during the Caribbean Premier League. In radio broadcasting, Isa was also one of the first women to summarise on men’s international fixtures for BBC’s Test Match Special. 

Her first broadcast of a men's global tournament came in 2015, when she presented the ESPN US, Caribbean TV and global digital coverage of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup in Australia and was one of four female commentators to work on the IPL, introducing women for the first time. Isa has since made a successful transition into multi-sports, when she anchored the Rio Olympics for ESPN. Supplemented by her regular appearances at the IPL and presenting/commentary work in the U.K. for BBC TMS and Sky Sports, Isa became the first female commentator to work on Sky's Test Cricket coverage in 2018. 2019 saw Isa at the forefront of cricket coverage for the Men’s Cricket World Cup in England followed by the Ashes.  Isa is now part of an all-star cast for Fox Sports cricket coverage in Australia.

Story Tag:
  • Isa Guha, Cricketer

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