Interview with Reema Malhotra – the flamboyant female cricketer

1.  After a long due, women’s cricket is receiving all the limelight it actually deserved. What’s your take on the current situation of our female cricketers?
This what we were waiting for since 2005 when we were the runner-ups. The situation and the platform was the same. But this time, thanks to BCCI and media people, all the matches was televised and women cricket got noticed by people. Now we have started getting what we deserved. This will set the big stage for women crickets in India now.

2. When you started your journey way back in 2003, did you ever feel you will come so long?
Honestly when I first played for India, I never thought I would come this far. It happened in no time. I live the life as it comes to me, so I never saw myself paying for so long.

3. How was the experience commentating during the World Cup 2017 with Star Sports and legend Kapil Dev?
Haha! That is something which comes like my first call for India. I enjoyed every bit of it. To play along with these girl and still playing in the domestic circuit it gives me immense pleasure to speak and share their stories with some fantastic players and legend like Kapil Dev. Well Star Sports is a big name when it comes to sports or cricket, you can say that and to share the commentary box with people like Akash , Deep, Kapil Sir, Parthiv made this world cup memorable for me as well.

4. Let us go back to the golden days. What age did you start playing cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
I used to play cricket on the streets at a very young age but professionally I started playing it when I was in my college. Because I did not know that our college has a women’s team, I only played one year of junior cricket (U-19). Actually playing with the boys has helped me improve my cricket a lot.

5. Any siblings? Were they equally interested in Cricket?
No, I am the lone warrior in my family (Haha.) I’m the only one who chose cricket as profession.

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6. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
My father I would say. He used to play cricket for Indian Airlines, so I grew up watching his game. And television coverage has helped me learn a lot about cricket. I did not miss any single match in my early days. I used to watch Shane Warne and I tried to copy his bowling action. And now I can proudly say that because of them, I played cricket for too long.

7. How did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket? Were you a studious or a mischievous child?
I was an average student who was better in sports. I represented school in school nationals in Kho-Kho, soft-ball and played badminton, table-tennis and even athletics (100 meter race and relay race) in inter-school and inter zone tournaments. My parents were supportive and helped me cope up with different sports together.

8.  When did you realize that you have to become a cricketer and play for Team India?
Since childhood my interest was in cricket. And when in college I got to know that there is a women’s team, I decided to give it a shot. I joined the college cricket team and started practicing seriously. I also joined football and soft–ball teams so as to keep my fitness on top. I represented football at both university and national level. All these sports has collectively helped me a lot on my footwork, fitness and reflexes.

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9. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national ODI team? Could you recall the moment and describe it in words?
Because of my performance in college cricket, I first got selected in the state camp and then for the Delhi Team. My first two seasons for the state team were splendid and in no time I got a call for the India Camp and I was selected for the National side. Honestly speaking, I didn’t expect a call from the national side so quickly. Everybody in the family was quite happy and were also surprised when I told them about my selection. And that actually changed my life as a cricketer and as a person.

10. How special was your debut ODI Match against Australia women on Feb 1, 2003. You did manage to add 15 run on the board.
Yes. It was actually a very special moment for me as it was my first tour and that too in New Zealand. Playing against a top team means you have to fight it out for everything. It was a dream come true and I was pretty nervous. But I enjoyed that experience and learnt a lot from there. Though I managed to score only 15 runs but it gave me a lot of confidence.

11. You have played in all 3 formats: 41 ODIs, 1 Test and 22 T20I. Which format have you enjoyed the most and why?
Well, I love the ODI format the most.

12. Tell us about the only test you played in your decade long career, which India won by 5 Wickets? Shouldn’t there be more test matches?
Yeah I played only one test and that too against England in England. We won that match and it was the best moment of my life. We played like a champion unit. We did our warm-up by dancing in the dressing room. The dressing room atmosphere was prolific and that reflected in our performance too. I sat with my shin-pads for more than a day. A lot of things happened in that lone test match and sledging is on top of the chart. My job is to distract the batswomen as I was a close-in fielder. Trust me, it was too difficult and when I got into bat the whole England team were waiting and they really gave me a hard time. I was batting with Mithali and she told me to ignore the light banters and focus on my play. I scored 12 not out and I was very happy. After that we didn’t get to play many test match. It was indeed really sad. I think we should play more and more test matches as it will help the players to prepare for different situations.

13. You were born in Delhi and later played domestic cricket for Delhi. What was the general perception about women’s cricket when you started your journey? Has it changed now?
Initially there were not many girls who played cricket because parents didn’t allow their girls to play with the boys. There was no future in Women’s cricket. People didn’t encourage their girls to go out and express themselves. Some of the parents like mine allowed their girls to go out and play. But now everything has changed in a positive way. And I am very happy that now the parents want their daughters to play cricket and do something for the country. Family coming forward to support their girl will definitely help grow women cricket in India.

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14. Tell us about your coaches who has helped you in your early cricket days. Which club did you start your journey with?
I started playing cricket under Mr. Hardeep in college. Then Diana Edulji offered me to join Western Railway. Mr. Sanjay Bhardwaj helped me a lot in my game. Along with me Gautam Gambhir and Amit Mishra also got help from him.

15. You made a comeback in 2008 against Australia series after being dropped from the national team. How was the feeling? How difficult is to manage and cope up in the period when you are rested and dropped from team?
I made a comeback in 2005 World Cup squad before making another one in 2008. After 2003 I was dropped from team and came back in 2005 and played for couple of years. Again I was dropped and made a comeback in 2008. It was a tough period but at the same time it brought the best out of me. I scored heavily in that season in the domestic circuit and made a comeback in the side. And at that time coach Sukhwinder Kaur helped me a lot. It was difficult to motivate myself but I worked hard under sir’s guidance and it helped me when I made a comeback. I worked more than 8 hours a day. My routine was hectic, which included gym, fitness, batting bowling, and swimming. All these helped me to make a comeback.

16. Currently at 36, you have seen a lot and evolved with this game. When you look back, which part of your journey have you enjoyed the most?
Well, I enjoyed every bit of it. Every moment was important and memorable but I will say 2005 world cup was the best moment and 2009 world cup too where we were third in the points table but played competitive cricket.

17. What’s next for you? Will you be seen coaching and nurturing young talents? 
Coaching is not my cup of tea as I have very less patience when it comes to coaching. I will surely share my experience with the kids but coaching surely not. I love to talk about the game and analyse it.

18. What would be your message to all the female cricket aspirants?
Work hard, enjoy the game. Cricket will make you strong and better person in life because it will teach you to face difficult situation with open mind. Make your parents and country proud. Work harder to achieve the best in life. Do dream big.

19. Your views on our Female Cricket platform?

I felt amazed when I saw someone promoting women’s cricket so religiously. I really appreciate the efforts. Bravo to Female Cricket. I loved It.

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