Female Cricket in an exclusive chat with the Sneh Rana.
1- At what age, did you first play cricket?
I started playing cricket at a very early age, when I was 7 I used to play with boys in my area and when I was 9 I took admission in a cricket club in Dehradun.
2- Which other sport did you participate in your village other than cricket?
Other than cricket, I played lot of other sports, but mostly I liked badminton and football.
3- You come from a small village called Sinola in Dehradun, how was everyone's perception about cricket then? Has it changed after you were selected in the national team?
People were not much aware about women's cricket. For them it was like --okk she wants to play let her, just for time pass. But my sister, she was very much into my game and she forced me to join cricket club. After I got selected in the national team, people started recognizing me and other players too. That scenario changed suddenly.
4- You spent your initial cricket days playing with boys in Dehradun. How difficult was it to match-up with boy’s game?
Yes, I started playing with boys even when I wasn't playing for a cricket club. I used to play with my cousins in the backyard. And when I went to club, there were hardly 2-3 girls. So from the very first day, I had to practice with boys. Yes playing with boys bring a new challenge all together, sometimes it was difficult, but most of the time it was fun.
5- Infact, your cricket talent was spotted when you played a cricket tournament in your village. Tell us more about this match? What happened there?
There was a tournament for boys and as I was very much interested in cricket. So I went there to watch them play (my cousins were also playing in that match). When the match was done, someone from my village suggested my name to the coaches who came with their respective team. So the other day, they called me up and asked me to bowl and bat in the nets. They were impressed with my performance and asked me join their club - LITTLE MASTER CRICKET CLUB, DEHRADUN.
Coaches- Mr Narendra Shah & Mrs Kiran Shah.
6- When did you realize your passion for the game and that you want to pursue cricket as a career?
I was very much interested in cricket since childhood. After taking admission in cricket club, I was learning new skills everyday. I remember, our club once participated in a local tournament in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. It was a softball cricket tournament. So we went there. It was my first tournament and luckily I performed well and I was awarded with the - Women of the series award. I then decided to take it professionally. I had to play for my country.
7- Who were your role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Sachin was my biggest inspiration. Apart from him, my sister has been my inspiration, my motivational speaker though.
8- You moved to Amritsar, Punjab in search for better opportunities in cricket? How easy/difficult was this decision?
As Uttarakhand is not affiliated with BCCI, it was a collective decision of my coaches and parents to send me to Punjab to play under an affiliated association. Yes, it was difficult to stay away from home and interact with people of different state, but I managed.
9- How did you convince your parents to let you choose cricket as a career?
My parents have been supportive throughout my career. They never stopped me from doing what I wanted to. So it was not at all difficult and that was my plus point.
10- Coming from a family who suffered a serious financial crisis, did that ever made you weak? Highlight the difficult times you have faced in your journey?
Yes we suffered but my parents never let the adversities hamper my game. They always supported me and never made me feel weak. Infact it gave me strength to learn more and work hard so that I never have to face that situation again.
I remember the day when I had to play for a tournament and my father borrowed money from someone else to let me go and follow my dreams.Those days were difficult but I was fortunate that my parents never let the adversities affect my game and support me every time.
11- Coach Narinder Shah and Kiran Shah of Little Masters Cricket Academy have helped you shaped your cricket career? How do you credit your success to them?
Yes my coaches have been very supportive throughout my career. I owe my success to them. Without them it would not have been possible for me to reach where I am today. I thank them wholeheartedly for their support.
12- Your father is an unsung hero, has been with you through your thick and thin. What do you have to say to him?
My father is my hero. He is always there for me in highs and lows. As I come from a small village, the mentality was different there but through all the odds he was the one who never gave up and always boosted me to play my game. I am happy that I was able to fulfill his dream.
13- Who else from your near & dear ones has contributed the most to your success?
My sister was my pillar, she motivated me, stood by me every time. Whenever I had a bad day at cricket, she was there to hold my back. My friends and my institution (Dehradun and Punjab) have equally supported my career.
14- Could you recall the moment when you first got to know of your selection in the National team? Did you dance out of joy? What were your initial few reactions?
I remember, I was travelling in a bus towards my home. I knew that the team is going to be announced that day. I was nervous but very excited, anticipating a positive news. I opened the website link and saw the team list. My name was not there and I was shattered. I reached home and I got a call from my friend saying 'Congratulations, You got selected.' I was like.. whattt, That's not possible, I just checked the link?? But I couldn't find my name in the list when I checked earlier. So without wasting further time, I hung the phone, quickly opened the website again.
What I saw that day will stay with me forever and ever. I saw a different team list this time. And there it was. My eureka moment. I was selected in the team. THE INDIAN TEAM.
There were tears in my eyes. I jumped out of my bed and ran towards my sister and hugged her tight. There was joy all over and I was happy that my family was the first one to share my joy and happiness. My father was in tears that day, the tears of joy, I must say. It was an amazing feeling. The feeling that cannot be described in words.
15- How proud were your family and friends, knowing that you have made it to the national team?
My parents were very proud knowing that I have made it to the national team. It was my aim and their's as well. My friends were very happy and excited with the news. Happiness everywhere.
16- You shifted to Haryana from Dehradun? What happened there? Didn’t you get enough matches to show your talents?
Before Punjab, I went to Haryana to try my luck, but i didn't get enough chance to show my game. So, I shifted to Punjab.
17- Your ODI debut match against Sri Lanka in 2014. You managed to deliver the best in the first game itself. What was your take from the match?
My debut match was against Sri Lanka and yes I was a little nervous because playing for a state and for a country is completely different task. But I was more excited to wear the INDIAN jersey and play for my country. I learnt many thing from my seniors that day which eventually helped me throughout my career.
18- You have played 7 ODIs and 5 T20Is and have been an exceptional bowler. How was it representing India every time after being through so much of struggles?
Playing for India is an amazing feeling in itself. After so much of struggles, one get to represent the country, so its a great feeling.
19-Do you feel you deserve more matches considering the form you had shown in both domestic and international cricket?
Ummm yes. I am working in all my departments and hoping to get there soon. I will earn that again.
20- There has been continuous cricket for our women’s team, started with domestic tournaments last year, Asia Cup in late 2016, World Cup qualifiers in early 2017 followed by 3 Day domestic tournaments, railway matches at Allahabad, Quadrangular Series at South Africa. Isn’t that a positive sign towards the development of women’s cricket?
Yes there has been a huge development in women's cricket lately. Girls are getting more matches to play at every level. BCCI is really doing a great job for girls. They are helping in promoting women's cricket. The games are being televised. I think it's a great step towards women's cricket. We're hoping for women's IPL as well.
21- More than 10+ years to your cricket service! Which has been the most special moment which is still fresh in your heart?
Most special moment would be - When I saw my name in the Indian team list. That was indeed a special moment for me and my family.
22- A lot of aspiring female cricketers have asked us this question. How can a girl today play for Indian women’s cricket team?
I think one should set an aim and just focus on that. Put in hard work and do it with strong determination. Success will be yours.
23- What do you have to say about India’s performance in the World Cup 2017 so far?
India was outstanding throughout the world cup. Girls have played extremely well and showed the world our capabilities. Mithali di- leading run scorer. She made many records during world cup. She was exceptional. Much respect to Harmanpreet Kaur- she played a brilliant unbeaten knock against Australia..(sixer queen)..Punam raut, Smriti Mandhana, they played their best innings. And bowlers like Jhulan di - highest wicket taker was simply outstanding..Not to forget Ekta and Rajeshwari, emerging young bowling talents.
I have missed few names. But as a team, we have done exceptionally well throughout the world cup.
24- What is your take on our platform – Female Cricket?
Female cricket - it's a great platform, an initiative to explore & nurture women's cricket. Nice way to promote female cricketers in and around the world. Now people know and recognize our female cricketers.
Thank you to female cricket for raising the profile of our women cricketer.
I also want to thank you for interviewing me. I am glad to share my journey with you all. Thanks for supporting and promoting women's cricket..
Answer in one word (your favorite):
Movie- MS Dhoni and Sachin at the top. But there are few more..
Place to hangout- my hometown Dehradun..
Cricket player- Sachin
Song- Sukoon Mila ( mary kom)
Junk food- Momos
Holiday destination- Dehradun..because whenever I get time I go home to meet my family and friends .
Actor/actress- Ranbir Kapoor/ Deepika Padukone