Cricket knows no boundary. Though the field of cricket is surrounded by ropes, off-the field, the cricketing fraternity reaches all over the world. John Capps-Jenner, 55, a British citizen and the lover of the game lends his hand of love and support to the Bangladesh Women’s Cricket Team.
Excerpts from the interview with John Capps-Jenner
Female Cricket: Coming from a country where both male and female cricket thrived, tell us about your cricketing journey. How and where did you start?
John Capps-Jenner: I started playing the game at 13. It was long back in 1974. We didn’t belong to a well-to-do family like any other boy, at that time and my mum worked hard. At the age of 13, I played for Lowestoft Town, a local club. I started to play for the youth team and played for the 2nd team as well. My family loved cricket and one of my friend suggested that I should give a trial to the Suffolk County. I was a right arm swing bowler and picked up 6 wickets in the trial. So I got selected for the team. It’s a minor county and I played till 32 and an accident occurred and I was forced to leave the game. But I continued to play the game for local club I started with, till 52 as an amateur.
Besides cricket I also played several other games like football and golf but I gave my priority to cricket.
Female Cricket: So, in your growing days, how was the situation of women’s cricket in your locality and county?
John Capps-Jenner: Back in those days, cricket was limited to the elite class population; you didn’t find many girls playing those days. There was Women Cricket Association but you would not find very much number. But the situation really changed after England won their first world cup. Then more girls came to play and women cricketers were treated same as men. Cricket as a game was encouraged. That one World Cup changed the perspective of the people and initiated the change in a broader way.
Oh, one more thing, I felt really bad that India failed to win the world cup. I really wanted to see the WWC in hands of Mithali Raj. No one gave them a chance before the WWC 2017, but I did. But they surprised all.
Female Cricket: What led to your interest in Female cricket?
John Capps-Jenner: Almost 2 years back, I came to know about a female cricketer SULTANA JOTY (Nigar Sultana) of Bangladesh over some social media platform and we became friend. I started to gather knowledge and felt that despite of so many achievements, women’s cricket is still due to get the acknowledgement from the cricketing fraternity.
Female Cricket: Tell us about your experience in Bangladesh?
John Capps-Jenner: As I like Joty’s cricketing skill, I became the fan of Bangladesh Women’s cricket Team. I went to Srilanka to see the Qualifier. I saw all the matches there and on several occasion I was the only spectator in the entire ground. I contacted one of the organizers and that nice lady provided me a pass to watch the match. I need not pay for the ticket. But in return I bought the food and water for myself and security staffs present out there. We became good friends after that. I also visited Bangladesh to see the women cricket league and at the same time I really appreciate the common people of Bangladesh. They are very nice and humble, down to earth.
Female Cricket: How do you look at the Bangladesh Women Cricket Team?
John Capps-Jenner: Bangladesh women team has improved a lot. They practice well. But still they lack quality in several areas. They lacked the pace in the ball and they struggle really hard to either rotate strike or hit the ball hard. They are good against the associate nations but they didn’t play well against the heavyweight teams. There are several good players in the team but others are not up to the mark. If Bangladesh wants to improve the level of the game, first and foremost they need to look into the grassroots level.
Female Cricket: Tell us about your initiatives towards women cricket in Bangladesh.
John Capps-Jenner: While watching the women national league, in one of the matches’ one girl became player of the matches. When she went to take the prize, I came to know that she lost both her parents when she was young. I was so overwhelmed that in that moment I decided to do something for the women cricket. But Bangladesh Cricket didn’t give me the permission to do so. Back home, I used to work in a nuclear company and I earned a lot. I mentioned before that when I was a boy, my family as not so well to do. So I understand the problem these young girls are facing so I wanted to do something. That’s why with the help of my friends, back home I collected fund and with the help of the fund we bought several cricket gears. I will distribute among the several young orphan girls in Bangladesh in coming September when I will visit Bangladesh to see the women cricket league.
Female Cricket: Did you indulge in any other initiatives?
John Capps-Jenner: Apart from our small initiative in Bangladesh, with the help of my friends I also conducted a fund gathering to help the children of my local club. One of my friends, who used to collect small toy cars, sold some of the cars to collect the money. With the help of the money we gathered we bought cricket kits to help who can’t afford those. We also organized cricket matches. May be it’s not a big thing but it gave me an inner happiness.
Female Cricket: Tell us about your family? Do they support your work?
John Capps-Jenner: Actually I don’t possess a family now. Both my parents have passed away and my only brother passed away almost 16 years ago. I’m a divorcee. My son lives with his mom. I miss him a lot, but I’m happy now with my partner. She supports me.
Female Cricket: What’s your future plan regarding women’s cricket?
John Capps-Jenner: I will be touring Bangladesh next month to see the domestic women cricket there and will try to help the women cricketers in whatever possible way.
Also Read: Interview with Reema Malhotra – Indian Women’s National Player
Female Cricket: Who is your favorite female cricketer?
John Capps-Jenner: Wicket-keeper and batter of Bangladesh Women, Sultana Joty.
Female Cricket: What do you think about Female cricket?
John Capps-Jenner: You people are doing a fabulous job. I really like your initiative.