This interview might answer lot of questions we receive from aspiring Female Cricketers and will leave you inspired. Read Radha Yadav's journey who started season-ball cricket at the age of 12 and within 5 years made it to the national team. Ofcourse, the journey wasn't easy and she had to sacrifice a lot, including her ice-creams and chocolates. She was selected to play for Mumbai seniors team and is currently playing for Baroda team in the domestic tournaments. She has also played for India A and made her dream debut in South Africa this year.
What age did you start playing cricket?
I started when I was 12.
What was your first interaction with cricket like?
I started playing box-cricket with boys in my colony (Mumbai). Box-cricket had its own advantages and it has helped me improve my fielding reflexes.
What do you feel was the turning point in your career?
It was one of those weekends and I was playing gully cricket with boys. Praful sir used to live in our locality who spotted the talent in my game and he asked me to start playing season-ball cricket. He spoke to my dad to seek his permission and my dad agreed.
Praful Sir started training me in Mumbai. Back then, we had only 3-4 girls attending the practice sessions.
Who were your role-models when you started playing cricket? Who are your role-models now?
I am a Left arm spinner and admire Daniell Vettori and Ravindra Jadeja a lot. From our female cricketers, I like Ekta Bisht’s bowling action. Also, I love Harry di’s and Veda di’s batting.
Which club did you play for in Mumbai?
I never played for a club, but played for my school team.
I used to study in Anandibai Damodar Kale Vidyalaya, Borivali. I later realized that this school didn’t had their own cricket team. So I decided to change my school and got admitted to Our Lady of Remedy High School, Borivali. It was difficult adjusting with the new folks, but it was all worth it.
I started playing for the school team. I performed well in the DSO (school-level tournaments) and this boosted my confidence in the game.
How was your experience playing for Mumbai team?
I got selected in the Under-19 team, but to my bad luck I couldn’t play any of the Under-19 matches. I got dengue fever. It took quite a time for me to recover. There was no Under-23 team back then. I was later selected to play in the Mumbai senior’s team.
What happened next? How and why did you move to Baroda?
My cricket career took a turning point when I got to know that my Coach Praful sir was shifting permanently to Baroda. I had no other option than to shift to Baroda to further my cricket career. My dad agreed to my decision, although I was only 15 then. I am currently pursuing 11th (first year) in Baroda - Commerce.
It’s been 2 years now that I am playing for Baroda.
Where does your family stay now?
My family still stays in Mumbai. My native is in Uttar Pradesh, but I have actually never been to my native place.
Where do you practice in Baroda?
Praful sir has his own academy in Baroda and that’s where I practice.
Tell us about your experience playing for India A last year against Bangladesh Women’s cricket team?
The matches were definitely far more competitive, unlike like the state matches. I and Jemimah were juniors and less experienced, so we got to learn a lot of things from the senior players. Playing against Bangladesh team did bring in a lot of responsibility.
Were your parents supportive of the idea? Or did you convince them later?
I feel fortunate to have such loving and supportive parents who never stopped me from playing cricket. My dad had given all of us the freedom to choose any sport we like. Since I spent most of my time playing with boys, I started playing what they played i.e cricket.
Ironically, I have played most of my cricket with the boys. Honestly, I never liked playing with girls. It felt awkward when I was asked to play with the girls.
Which other sport have you played in your growing days?
Apart from cricket, I have played badminton a lot with my colony friends. I have also played kabaddi and kho-kho in school. Somehow, I always found myself playing one sport or the other.
Tell us about your school cricket days. Did you and Jemimah Rodrigues ever play together?
I remember playing against Jemimah a lot of times during school days. We were opponents back then, but now are very good friends. She used to play for St. Joseph and I was playing for Our Lady of Remedy High School, Borivali.
Talk about your debut national appearance against South Africa? How special was it?
Making your international debut and that too on a foreign soil against mighty South Africa, – I couldn’t ask for more. It was more than just special. Although I did not get any wicket, I enjoyed every bit of my South-Africa tour.
How did your family react to the news of your India selection?
It was surreal. My dad was shedding tears of joy and mother was hugging me out of happiness. You cannot explain that feeling in words. I was 12 when I started season ball cricket, playing India in just 5 years is nothing less than a dream.
Tell us about your initial cricket days? How easy/difficult was it adjusting with the game?
I have played and enjoyed tennis cricket a lot. Tennis cricket has helped me in my fielding. Initially started with fast bowling, but sir told me to try spin bowling. I enjoyed batting more than bowling and I still do.
Who would you credit the most for your success?
Definitely has to be Praful Sir. He was the one who spotted the talent in me, groomed and nurtured it and developed the player in me. Nobody in my family knew what cricket is, I feel they still don’t understand it completely.
Do you enjoy studies? Or plan to pursue higher education?
Honestly, I don’t like studies. And these days, even if I want, I cannot devote much time to my studies due to cricket commitments.
What exercises do you practice to stay fit and flexible?
It is important to understand that it is not an overnight thing. I meant, you have to practice it daily, with dedication to see the results. I have been exercising right from the day I started professional cricket. These are basis drills – running, sprinting for half an hour
What diet do you follow and recommend aspiring female cricketers?
Keep it simple. Remember to include sufficient protein in your diet basis your body weight. No junk food during matches. One should eat any and all type of fruits. In the morning, I usually prefer eating fruits, boiled-eggs, milk, corn-flakes, dry-fruits, sausages and dosas.
In the lunch, I have Chapati, Bhaji and red meat. We are not allowed to eat sweets. Although I love chocolates and ice-cream, but have to sacrifice.
Which has been the most special moment from your career so far?
My debut for India A against Bangladesh Women’s team last year was very special where I bowled 4 overs, gave just 4 runs and took 2 wickets.
Now that you have made it to the national team from Baroda, who else do you feel has the potential?
Yastika Bhatia is one such promising talent from the team. She is currently pursuing her 12th board exams and therefore not playing the matches. She is a left-hand batswoman and a wicket-keeper and a very strong India-probable.
I also admire Tarannum Pathan’s batting a lot and she is equally talented.
Also Read : Interview with Tarannum Pathan
What is your say on our platform – Female Cricket?
You guys are doing a great job. I follow your Instagram page religiously. It’s good to see somebody backing our women’s cricket team with so much of vigor and love.
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Favorite Movie – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Bajirao Mastani
Favorite actress: Deepika Padukone
Favorite Hangout spot – Marine Drive, Mumbai
Favorite Song – Channa Mereya
Favorite Food – Chicken Lollipop
Best friend – Jemi
Most Mischievous in the team – Prakashika Naik