“Rather than one particular thing I always wanted to be ‘The Jack of All Trades’”: Some moments with Maulim Mitra, former Bengal Player.
She comes from a Bengali family that didn’t have much acquaintance with sports, but what made the difference was the support to their girl. “My father used to play football in his early days. They never forbidden me to do what I like, they never stopped me when I opted cricket” Maulim said.
Maulim Mitra, played cricket in all the three – sub junior, junior and senior level for the Bengal state team in late 90’s and early 2000’s. She was also part of the senior team which played the Zonal games in 2003.
She started to play cricket at a very young age and excelled not only in cricket but also in athletics as well. When asked how and when she started playing cricket, Mitra recalled those old memories of her. “I was (still is) good at many sports. For me sport-events at school meant a lot as I kept adding medals to my tally every year. It’s our sports teacher who stated to my father and after that I was admitted in cricket coaching camp under Lopamudra Di( Lopamudra Bhattacharyya ) in Chetla Agrani Club in class 7. Later I shifted to Vivekanda Park and trained under Swapan Sir.”
With good reflex, she was a better fielder at gully than any other player that time. “My position was fixed. It all started with catching and throwing and later on almost nothing missed my grip.” She would dive to stop the ball and didn’t fear at all. “I was proud of my inbuilt skills” she added.
Mitra, who was a right hand batter and a part time off spin bowler, represented her state in all categories till 2004. Unlike other girls of her age who preferred playing with dolls or going to shopping, Maulim preferred sport. “To me cricket came naturally, and unlike most other girls I never indulged in gossips or preferred going to shopping.” She said.
It was early 2000 and cricket was not very much popular among the girls then. My family was supportive and I really didn’t pay any heed to what the society thought about me. I was occupied with my cricket and dance and drawing classes.”
Mitra played for Bengal in sub-junior level in 1998 and it was her performance at senior level that earned her a call for Railways Trials. But unfortunately, the date of the trial was scheduled during her 12th board exams. She had to miss it.
Mitra relocated in Gwalior for her higher studies in Physical Education and completed her M.PEd with specialization in cricket. She continued to play cricket there. “I was the silver medallist in my university and played all the four year for the university team and even I lead the side in my final year in 2008.”
Why didn’t you try for nationals? Were the studies more important then? Facing the questions, Mitra remained calm and answered “It’s not like that. I always wanted to give back to cricket in whatever way possible. So I took physical education as my career. As an insider of the game, I can be a better contributor. Still I uphold this dream of playing for India.”
Mitra enjoys her journey form a cricketer to a person whose contribution most of the time is overlooked i.e the support staffs. Mitra wants to see this as a part of her lifelong adventurous journey. She wanted to see the unseen and know the unknown. “Unless I go through all the chapters, I wouldn’t know which chapter is right for me. Therefore, I need to go through the whole of it starting from being a player, then coach, then trainer. As I have mentioned earlier, rather than one particular thing, I always wanted to be ‘The Jack of All trades.” And most importantly apart from the lover of the game, Mitra preferred sports to remain fit enough to explore every chapters of her life. She admitted, “It’s little challenging to end up being a sports person rather than to start with.”
After completing her education, she travelled around the globe for her job. And in that process it felt like she missed the chance to represent the tri-colour. Mitra who worked as a gym instructor and physical trainer in several gym and resorts differed in one point. She positively remarked, “Rather than wearing the national cap, I would like to teach some to reach the level where they can dream to earn the national cap.”
Memories are always very special to Mitra, like anyone else. But having said that she is not ready to term any particular moment ‘very special’ as to her this will show disrespect to the others. She said, “Each memory is unique within itself and at the same time I will not term any of the cricketers as my favourite because the world judge success in terms of popularity and fame and exposure. Again it’s not about any particular person to tag him/her as my favourite but whoever can perform in a given situation, holding their nerve, becomes my favourite. Having said that, Kohli is playing well, Mandhana and Harmanpreet too are.”
Speaking about the changing scenario of the women cricket compared to the previous decade and a half, Mitra remarked that though the situation is better for the girls now but the girls need to play well regularly to keep up the momentum. She reminded us our responsibility towards the game and said board should nurture the women cricketers properly. “The matches should be broadcasted more regularly. When the people will see the real time matches constantly, it will change their notion about the women cricket. Apart from the exhibition matches, league like WBBL and KSL should also start in India. It will help the girls to get the exposure with world class player and at the same time will teach how to handle the pressure in different circumstances. I feel, India lost the final because of their lack of ability to handle the pressure in the crucial juncture of the match.”
There are some serious allegation about the women cricket that it’s very boring and too slow in the era of fast cricket. Mitra in reply advised to watch some of the excellent innings by Attapattu’s 178, Harmanpreet’s 171* and Taylor’s 147 against the world class bowling in recent times. She jovially remarked that “Some men watches female cricket because they are unable to cope up with the idea that women can also play. While others watch to criticize the female cricketers”. As the conversation was heading towards the end, Maulim once again expressed her dream to help the needy to achieve the national cap if possible and at the same time added that the recent ‘concern’ regarding the form of the ‘national crush’ Smriti Mandhana’s is nothing but a mockery about the women cricketers and Mandhana will overcome the bad patch. “We must give time to the cricketers and should be supportive towards them. Mandhana is young and she is learning. So we must keep faith in her.”