LIGHTING UP THE FIELD : CANADIAN CRICKETER HIBA SHAMSHAD


Cricket is deeply rooted in the history of Canada, so much that Canada, along with USA were the two countries that ever took part in an international cricket match. Now a minor sport yet the fastest growing one in Canada, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time that the sport had gained so much popularity that the first President of Canada had declared it as the national sport.

Today we have had the opportunity of talking with Hiba Shamshad, a vital part of the Canadian Women’s cricket team, one of many taking the sport forward in the nation.

1. Hi Hiba, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a left arm medium pacer all-rounder.

I last represented Canada in the ICC Americas World Cup qualifiers in 2019.

I was born and raised in Dubai, moved to Canada when 13 years old.

Current Fav Women Player – Suzie Bates (NZ)

I sleep with a Cricket ball next to my pillow! 😋

2. In a country where sports like hockey have more popularity, how did you start playing cricket?

Being born and raised in Dubai where Cricket was a pretty famous game within the South Asian community, I started playing cricket just like any other sport with my brother and friends on the streets. I never thought about playing it professionally until I moved to Canada and was noticed by Duriya Shabbir & Sutha (Former Canadian Women player- Coaches now) and was asked to practice with them for their local toronto club Tranzac. I have not looked back since. I got selected to play for Team Ontario few years later and then Team Canada later on.

3. Wow! So Canada’s women cricket team made it’s first international appearance in 2006. How far do you think women’s cricket in the nation has progressed since then?

Back in 2006, Cricket was not that known of a sports in Canada but as we can see now it is growing at every corner. Lot of girls are showing interest in Cricket and we have grown the game at the root level now. Competition has increased a lot and everyone is staying on top of their game throughout the year. Many women’s league has started since 2006 around Canada which is bringing the competition to a higher level. 2018 and 2019 was a great Cricket year where we had our first Canada day Cup where 2 Ontario team and 1 Western region team participated including a guest team from USA. We also had our Nationals in September 2018 in Ontario. In 2019 Canada participated in the ICC Americas World cup qualifiers.

3. Certainly on its way to more successes. How was your experience while partaking in the Canadian Women’s National Championships?

It is always a great experience and honor to represent your country at an international level. Rewinding back to 2018,

I was one of the 4 Canadians selected to play in West indies (Trinidad & Tobago) in 2018 for Courts Grand Slam T20 among other nationals West Indian players. It was a great experience and I got to learn alot from them. The way they are trained to play Cricket is a lot different from Canadians. The pitch, power hitting, the pace are all on the next level. The best and fun part obviously was to play the night games at the Brain Lara Stadium. As a Canadian player, I have never experienced a night game with the flood lights on so it was a crazy experience. Playing in that tournament made me realize that Canada has still a long way to go especially when it comes to fitness.

Representing Canada in 2019 for the World Cup Qualifiers was a great experience too. Due to the weather, we trained indoors most of the year for it and flew back to Trinidad for a week to play in their U19 tournament. That tournament helped us to use our skills outdoors after being trained indoors for most of the time. We won few games that gave us the confidence to play against USA at their home ground in Florida for the qualifiers. Unfortunately, the results were not in our favour but we realized our mistakes and have worked on it since.

5. Can you take us through your practice sessions and how you keep fit, especially now in times of quarantine?

Before the quarantine, we had 2-3 practices sessions a week including the club level (esp for the winter time) and as soon as the season gets closer our practices would increase. I practice more on bowling with the right line and length and try to come up with different variations.

Times like these are really hard to be inside when you are always at the ground or nets practicing but you gotta stay home and stay safe. Just before the whole pandemic, we had our Ontario High Performance camp going on indoors and due to the lockdown, the Coaches have instructed the players to do certain sets of exercises at home. So currently working on those and other than that, I workout with my friends over video chat everyday to stay motivated.

6. Where do you wish to see Canadian cricket in the next few years? Is there a particular milestone you’re looking to?

With the amount of talents we have, Canada is definitely reaching the international competition level soon and hope to see Canada play in the next women’s world cup.

7. How was the support of the people you know when you decided to play cricket? Who’s been the most motivating person in your life?

I was always into sports so deciding to pick Cricket was not that hard. My parents have been really motivating throughout the time.

8. Which other interests do you pursue other than cricket?

I love all sorts of sports, squash and basketball being my favorite. I am into video editing and photoshop too.

9. Finally, tell us your life motto which inspires you to do better each day.

Life is too short to have regrets. Today is not coming back so do what needs to be done. Tomorrow will always be busy.

It was a pleasure interviewing you Hiba and I thank you once again for featuring on this magazine for an interview. We wish you the best for all your future doings.