In a groundbreaking move, Catherine Dalton became the first-ever female coach for a team in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) ahead of the ninth edition of the T20 league.
Her appointment as Multan Sultans fast-bowling coach is seen as a significant step towards gender equality and inclusivity within professional cricket.
"I am excited about this on multiple levels. The opportunity to work with such talented players is fantastic. I will be re-engaging with many I have worked with before," Dalton, who is set to work alongside Multan's head coach Abdul Rehman, said in a press release.
"Above this though, is the fact that as a female taking a major role in a men's T20 franchise, the news is ground-breaking. And to be the first female fast bowling coach in men's cricket is very humbling.
"In the nine years since the PSL started, it has grown in both stature and size. I firmly believe the PSL has the best local fast bowling attacks in it compared to any other leagues, and the standard of cricket being played is fantastic," she added.
Dalton worked with a number of fast bowlers, including Mohammad Ilyas, Sameen Gul, and Arshad Iqbal, as well as a number of Under-19 players during her two previous visits to Pakistan before making history as the first female coach of a men's division team at the highest level. Dalton has worked at Sultans' youth academy at Lodhran.
"Catherine's work for Multan Sultans' youth academy speaks for itself. We are all looking forward to her bringing those skills to the main team. In this process, we also want to establish new role models for young girls, those who succeed not only on the pitch as athletes, but also in the boardroom as leaders, and in the academies as coaches," Multan Sultans CEO Ali Khan Tareen said.
Catherine has been a part of Sultans' player development programme for over five years, working with many youngsters, first-class cricketers and PSL players, according to Tareen.
"We always knew she'd be the first female fast bowling coach to break into men's cricket. Even back in 2018," Tareen said.
Sultans general manager Hijab Zahid stated that the inclusion of Dalton will boost the franchise.
"Catherine is an exceptional coach who has a proven track record of nurturing fast bowling talent across the world. Her inclusion to the coaching staff not only elevates the squad but also establishes an important milestone in inclusion and equity for Pakistan cricket as a whole. We welcome her to the Sultans family."
With an impressive coaching career spanning various domestic teams and international women's cricket, Dalton, who has featured in women's county cricket for Essex and Middlesex, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her new role.
Dalton has previously represented Ireland in four ODIs and as many T20 Internationals.
In 2023, she participated in nine London Championship matches for Essex Women. There, she accumulated an impressive total of 253 runs at an average of 31.63.
Dalton is a certified Level 3 Advanced Coach and has held coaching roles at the prestigious National Fast Bowling Academy in the UK and the Ultimate Pace Foundation and Rajasthan Cricket Association in India.
Interestingly, Dalton has also worked on the bowling of Indian seamer Deepak Chaharm who plays for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.
Dalton's appointment sends a powerful message that women can excel in leadership positions within sports traditionally dominated by men.
"As she takes charge of the Multan Sultans, her presence will not only inspire young girls aspiring to become cricketers but also contribute to reshaping gender norms and celebrating diversity within the sporting industry," Ubaid added.
Mohammad Rizwan led Multan Sultans to the PSL title in 2021. Sultans have made it to the final three times and emerged as runners-up in the previous edition.
PSL 9 is expected to take place between February 8 and March 24 next year.