Change is what we all want to see. But only a few have the ability to bring. Suprita Das,a senior sports correspondent and former Associate Sports Editor with NDTV, a sports enthusiast and a journalist is penning down inspiring stories in her books. The writer of the very successful and one of the most loved books on women’s cricket “Free Hit”. The person whose greatest motivation is the real life stories of people and who today with her words is motivating and inspiring many across the globe!
She is a writer, a journalist who shows sincere and intense conviction in everything she does. In an Exclusive Interview with the Female Cricket team, Suprita Das takes us through the journey of writing “Free Hit” and how everything about women’s cricket has fascinated her so much.
1) When did the idea of writing “Free Hit” come up and how?
The idea struck me during the 2017 ICC World Cup, specifically in the game vs Australia when Mithali went past Charlotte Edwards’ record for most runs in ODIs. I was at work, writing the match report, when it hit me that between Mithali and Jhulan, we have the world’s highest run getter and highest wicket taker right here from India, yet their achievements aren’t talked about and celebrated as much as they should be. They have achieved everything that they have with little or nothing of an ecosystem for most part of their careers. And I thought this is a story worth telling. It was the publishers’ idea to focus not just on Mithali and Jhulan, but the story of women’s cricket in India in totally. Who was around before them, how did the sport even start in India and then bring it as close to present as possible.
2) Why the title “Free Hit”?
Just like a batsman can hit a shot freely and fearlessly without the fear of getting out when an umpire signals a free hit, similarly women’s cricket in India finds itself in a similar position at the moment – come what may, now you cant dismiss them!
3) What is it about women’s cricket that fascinates you the most?
The personal journeys of most of the players, across generations, has fascinated me the most, to be honest. Every athlete undergoes tremendous sacrifice to achieve whatever they do achieve, but for women athletes, the hurdles to cross are far too many. For each of these women, had it not been unlimited amount of passion and a super supportive set of parents, they would not have been in the world stage the way they are now. Also, this is the most exciting times women’s cricket has seen globally! That makes me feel very hopeful and excited about the times ahead.
4) How important do you think is the role of an author and journalist in the growth of women’s cricket?
Not just one author or one journalist, the media has a massive role to play in the game’s growth. There is no two ways about this. Otherwise they will be remembered or talked out only when a World Cup comes around. In some sense, women’s cricket is a new property, and to ensure there’s continued interest and following, the media needs to cover the women’s game much more often.
Onus also lies on broadcasters. Even in this one year when women’s cricket has been talked about so much, have we seen special shows and repeat highlights of our wins and memorable knocks? No. Even during the ongoing World Cup, right after Harman has played a blinder, the highlights we get to see immediately after are of a men’s game. Why?!
5) Will you be working on more of these cricket oriented books?
Can’t comment right away. Books take a lot of time, dedication, hard work, focus and love to work on!
6) What according to you can transform women’s cricket and take it to a whole new level which is lacking today?
A World Cup win can transform things dramatically, I believe. But that apart, there’s plenty that has to be done. The board needs to look at domestic cricket desperately and have a more well calibrated calendar for them, the Indian team needs to be promoted and marketed vigorously before any big tour, just like it’s done before a big series for the men. Also, the quality of T20 cricket that we have seen in this World Cup should make the BCCI realise that it’s high time they make women’s IPL a reality.
7) Which is your absolutely favorite part of writing the book?
The research! I came across so many wonderful, brave, gritty, inspiring women who opened their hearts to me with their stories. That was the best part.
8) Tell us about your upcoming projects?
Can’t comment right now since I work independently and take up assignments as and when is suitable for me.
9) Being an author and a journalist both, which role do you think influences such revolutions more?
The roles are different, but both are important. With news, we tend to move very quickly from one story to another, so the scope for detailing and in-depth writing and reportage is rather limited. In a book, you’re in an open field, and have much more freedom. Also, a book has more longevity, as opposed to stand alone news items. So you hope more more people pick it up and read it, and get inspired.
10) What/who is your greatest inspiration and motivation?
Real life people and real life situations! I’ve worked in news for a decade, where nothing is made up. It develops and breaks at its own sweet time with rarely a prior announcement. Inspiration is around, we don’t need to look beyond our immediate personal and professional environments to get inspired.
12) Through which all sources did you gather the content for “Free Hit”?
Primary interviews mostly, conducted with people in person, on phone, over email, video calls. That apart I referred to archives of publications such as the Hindu, and referred to available material on the internet. I had an opportunity to glance through Anjum Chopra and Sunil Yash Kalra’s book on women’s cricket that was penned a few years ago, portions of Isabelle Duncan’s book on women’s cricket etc.
13) There’s much deserved appreciation about the book. How has it influenced your personal life?
It’s made me a huge women’s cricket fan, more than anything else. I watch whatever is available on TV or live streaming, and read about it as much as possible.
14) Do you think sports and Writing and interconnected and how?
Any sport needs good writing for it to be told about to the world. With social media now, the amount of content available for consumption is unlimited, but that often affects the quality of the content. So anybody can write and write on sports, but not everyone can write WELL ENOUGH on sports. It needs a lot of understanding, patience, finesse to write well, something that is rare in today’s day and age.
15) What do you think about this current Indian side and things they are yet to work on?
This is a young side and a very talented one at that, so my hopes and wishes are with them. Plenty of players require consistency, but I’m sure the coaching staff in place is already working with them to improve on the necessary areas.
The 22 Yard stretch that molded me, is what I hold sacred. A cricketer weaving life’s innings into words. A Rohit Sharma Admirer always. I believe writing and cricket aren’t passions, but ways of life, so truly living the dream!