Diana Baig – First international cricket player from Gilgit Baltistan – Biography

Diana Baig Pakistan Cricket team player

Pakistan women’s cricket team’s right-arm medium-fast bowler, Diana Baig, was born on 11 September 1995 in Gilgit, Pakistan. She is around 27 years old and has played for major teams including Pakistan Women, Higher Education Commission Women, Pakistan Women A, Islamabad Under-19s Women, Islamabad Under-21s Women, PCB Challengers, Lasers Women, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited Women, PCB Blasters, Islamabad Women. Right at the time of writing this article, Diana Baig is in Dubai and playing FairBreak invitational Tournament 2022 for Torandoes Women team.

Diana Baig belongs to Gilgit Baltistan – the lush green northern and mountainous areas of Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan is home to a number of mountain peaks taller than 7km, several large glaciers, thousands of ancient rock artefacts, and just one international cricketer: and that’s one and only Diana Baig. It’s hardly a surprise that she is a force of nature.

Baig is named after Princes of Wales and a member of the British Royal family. She is the only player who is double-international, caped in both football and cricket for Pakistan. Considering the fact that Gilgit Baltistan is a mountainous area of Pakistan and it has insignificant facilities and opportunities related to the metropolitan cities of Pakistan like Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar.

Dian Baig has a degree in health and physical education, eyes a long-term future in coaching, and has immediate goals to take Pakistan further than they have ever gone in a women’s cricket rankings. And she’s doing it all because she was inspired by a story in a magazine more than a decade ago which she told to ESPN CricInfo in New Zealand, where she has completed her quarantine ahead of the Women’s Cricket World Cup

In 2010, I was looking at a magazine and saw that the Pakistan team had won the Asian Games – a women’s team. There were pictures of the team in the magazine, and when I saw that, I got very inspired

Diana Baig belongs to Gilgit Baltistan which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. People of the area are calm and peaceful along with respectable and hospitable. Because of the mountainous region, the area is lacking basic facilities including stat of the art playing grounds, academies, and stat of the art coaching staff.

Besides all of that, she never stepped back from her dreams of representing her nation once in her life. Diana also said:

When I was a child, I didn’t have a role model and I never thought about playing international cricket. I watched men’s cricket at that time. My family loved cricket and we all loved to watch cricket. Once, I saw a Pakistan-India women’s match on TV. In my mind, I started imagining that someday I will play. I was just imagining, but I didn’t have hope.

Diana’s athletic coach suggested playing cricket that is because of her ability to throw the shot put. Once there was a team going to play cricket and she was asked by her coach to try and she did that. After a while, her coach told her that she was doing great and she went to Islamabad with the team. They played against Islamabad and got selected for the Islamabad region.

I played my first national championships [in 2009-10, at the age of 14] and saw the women I had seen in the magazine – Javeria Khan and Sana Mir and Nida Dar. It was a dream come true. Whenever I think about my journey, I always think about my father, and how he encouraged me. He was always excited for my success and wanted me to push hard always

What Baig didn’t know then was that the Asian Games win had prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board to professionalise the women’s game. It eventually paved the way for her to make a career in cricket, but via football.

In 2014 there was a team going to Lahore for the [football] national championships and there was a shortage of players. They asked me to play. I went to Lahore to join the team. I played my first national championships in football there. After that, I got selected for a national football camp. There were about 50 girls in the two-month camp. Eighteen of us were selected and I was a defender. I played some international tours, but in 2015, the Pakistan Football Federation [PFF] was banned, so I stopped playing.

She didn’t stop watching, though, and continues to support any team Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi play for, but often has to cheer alone. European football is not well followed in her home town and the local scene has died down as the PFF has fallen in and out of FIFA’s favour. At the time of writing, it remains banned over government interference and there are fears of development stalling and players being lost to the sport.

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In Dianas’s case, football’s loss was cricket’s gain as she turned her full attention to bowling after the 2015 football sanctions. She turned it into an opportunity and that paid him back with her first appearance in the 2017 World Cup and it changed her whole life and career. As she became a permanent part of the team after that.

Before that World Cup, Baig had played two ODIs and a T20I for Pakistan in two years. In the World Cup, she played five matches and took wickets in all of them but was benched for the final two games. She was their joint second-highest wicket-taker despite playing fewer matches than anyone else in the front-line attack, showed an ability to swing the ball both ways, and established herself as an energetic fielder and charismatic cricketer who could nail down her place in the team.

Baig has played in 28 of Pakistan’s 34 ODIs since and was their joint-highest wicket-taker at the 2020 T20 World Cup.

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