“I only see myself as a cricketer”, says Smriti Mandhana

The Indian women’s cricket team’s vice-captain Smriti Mandhana had been a pioneer for women’s cricket in India. Having been a gender bender on the surface, the 22-year-old considers cricket as-just a sport-and feels that the globe at big has not yet evolved out of its limited differences.

Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana

“I am fortunate that I come from a family that never distinguished between a boy and a girl. I had the freedom to choose my entire life and have been supported throughout by my family. However, when you step out into the world it seems very different. Women are made to conform to a set behavioral pattern and I fit into none of them as I took up a sport, which is to date called a ‘gentleman’s sport’ despite every country having a competent women’s team,” over email, she told IANS.

Mandhana’s invasion into cricket, a game pursued like a religion in India, started when she was only six years of age. Her dad would take her brother to practice, and young Mandhana would simply go with them. “I slowly began to develop an interest in the game. I owe my success to my family. Had it not been for my father and my brother, I would not have been so closely associated with cricket,” she added.

The star batter said she is extremely proud and does “not believe that femininity limits the choice of one’s profession or physicality”. It is the mindset that allows one with power to follow a decision, embrace with the same grace a victory or a loss, and propels them to operate harder.

“I followed in my brother’s footsteps. I used to wake up at 5 a.m., and wait for him to complete his cricket practice just so I could play the 10-15 balls pitched to me at the end. They used to be the highlight of my day and as soon as I would finish my 15 balls, I would start thinking about how I had to better myself for the next day’s 15 balls.”

There is no lack of female cricketers like Mandhana, who, growing above gender-based social conditioning, have pursued their aspirations without compromise and even created their mark in the areas of their decision. Be that as it may, the weight of decision gets further exhausting for them when one doesn’t simply need to just perform, yet in addition, always legitimize one’s place in the game in light of one’s gender.

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“It gets frustrating when my male counterparts are questioned about their game or performance, whereas I am fielding questions on gender stereotypes and my ability to stay committed to the game on account of my gender,” Mandhana said. “I only see myself as a cricketer. Why should there be labels when none are required?” she questioned.

Source: The Indian Express

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