An aspiring Chartered Accountant Devieka Palshikaar was smitten by cricket and its beauty. She has no other option than to leave CA and pursue her passion for cricket.
As luck would have it, Devieka went for Under-19 trials and got selected. There was no looking back after that. She donned the Indian jersey for 2 years but an unfortunate injury during one of the fielding sessions kept her away from professional cricket. It wasn’t over yet since Devieka had other plans for her. Read this beautiful interview to know more.
Excerpts from the interview:
1. What drove you to cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
As most of the female cricketers start, even I started from gully cricket. Since my early school days, I used to play with my elder brother and his friends. I was the only girl with all those boys. My other friends used to wonder why these boys invite-only me but not to them. (laughs)
2. Any siblings? If yes, were they equally interested in Cricket?
My one and only sweetheart elder brother who always supported and promoted me. Even he was equally or I would rather say better than me in cricket but unfortunately, he couldn’t pursue cricket as his profession.
3. Who was your cricket role model/inspiration whilst growing up?
Frankly speaking, each and everyone who fights against all the odds and reaches to any sport is my inspiration. I always drew inspiration from such personalities. I always like to listen to people and their stories. That’s why I never had one particular role model, there were many.
4. How did you cope up with your studies/education / other commitments along with cricket?
I started playing professional cricket very late. So luckily my studies weren’t hampered much. I was already in my 2nd year of B Com. I was regretting that I should have started early but now I’m glad that I started late, gave time to my studies and today have an M.com degree with me. I was also preparing for my CA at that time and I left it in between during my 3rd year to pursue cricket. Luckily my parents were very supportive, so I could take that decision.
5. When did you realize that you have to become a cricketer and play for Team India?
Though I started playing professional cricket very late say at the age of 19 since my childhood, I used to tell everyone that one day I will play for India. I really don’t know from where that answers were coming but as destiny would have it, I went on to represent India.
6. You have so far played 15 ODIs and 1 Test. Which match & format did you enjoy the most? Why?
I enjoyed ODIs more as a player. I even enjoyed T20 format and would have loved to represent India but unfortunately, this format was introduced to us very late. I just got to play for 2,3 seasons. The kind of game I was playing, I feel Test matches were not my cup of tea. But yes, I enjoyed watching the test.
7. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national ODI team? Didn’t you jump out of joy? Could you recall the moment and describe it in words?
I got a call from our association regarding my selection for national team and of course it was one of the most beautiful moments. I remember, I was in the bank for some work, so couldn’t jump there with joy but was dancing, smiling.. mann me laddo fut rahe the hahaha. And I was dying to finish that work, rush home and convey the good news to my parents.
8. How special was your debut ODI Match against Pakistan women on 2nd Jan 2006? And boy, you took 3 wickets and India registered a convincing 10 wicket win in Karachi.
Yes of course it was very special for 2 reasons: first, it was my debut game that too against our arch-rivals Pakistan in Pakistan. And second, by God’s grace, I contributed to my team’s victory. I was awarded the women of the match in my debut game. It was surreal.
9. Don’t you regret playing international cricket for only 2 years from 2006 to 2008? Did you expect a comeback post-2008 England series?
No regrets as such but yes I wanted to play for some more years. Unfortunately in 2007 during my fielding session, I got back injury which didn’t allow me to give my 100% on the field. I was doing well but I was always struggling with it.
10. You come from Malvan and have played domestic cricket in Maharashtra. What was the general perception of women’s cricket in your hometown back then? How has it changed now?
My native place is Malvan but I’m brought up in Pune, my hometown. Unfortunately, we didn’t have good facilities for girls during those days in Pune. The term women’s cricket was alien to me. That’s the reason, till 18, I was only playing gully cricket. One day, when I was coming back home from my college, I saw one girl wearing white uniforms. I was surprised to see that. A quiet & reserved person like me followed her and asked why was she wearing a white uniform and carrying a kit bag? She told me that she played cricket for Maharashtra. I can’t tell you how happy I was at that moment as if this was my moment. I took all the information from her and the very next day, I went to PYC gymkhana where they had selection trials for the Under-19 Maharashtra team.
11. How did coaching happen to you? Where did it all start?
Actually it happened co-incidentally as I said I was a very quiet and reserved person who didn’t like to talk much. Never ever in my wildest dream had I thought of becoming a coach because it was more of taking a job. But in 2009, BCCI conducted its 2nd coaching course for women in Pune. I was not a part of the Indian team then, so I thought of attending the course for my personal knowledge and improvement. I did quite well there in both theory and practical and stood 1st in exams. I was given a small assignment in Assam after that. It all started from there. From taking up that small assignment which wasn’t small actually, because the Assam Association gave me 93 players to coach for 3 weeks. Trust me, I wasn’t prepared for it.
Somehow with all my playing experience and no coaching experience at all, I managed the program quite well. Later, I was given a 2 years contract for both Junior and senior teams. I also played there for almost 3 seasons. I was managing everything single-handedly. Playing, captaining, coaching, and yes took up the team-manager role as well. (laughs).
That gave me a lot of confidence and changed me completely as a person. There was so much to learn from those players who were struggling and still pursuing their passion for cricket. They all inspired me a lot. That inspiration kept me going for almost 3 years. The kind of determination and hard work they showed, god it was fabulous.
12. You assisted Coach Purnima Rau at the 2014 T20 World Cup. Was this your first coaching assignment? What were the key learnings?
Yes, the 2014 World Cup was my first assignment as an assistant coach for India. I knew Puri di from before only. We used to play together for Air India. She was our coach there. I have learned a lot from her since my playing days.
13. If not Cricket, where else would have Devieka landed up in her career?
As I said, I was pursuing my CA and left it in the last year. If not cricket, then I would have been into finance, taxation, or mathematics.
14. What next now? What are your next short term and long term goals?
I just finished my Senior NCA camp now. I will be joining my state team soon. Work with them for the coming season.
15. Given the tremendous performance by our Indian team at the World Cup, the limelight has shifted towards us. People have started talking about women’s cricket in India. What do you feel should be done next?
Yes, excellent performance by our players. Congratulations to them again. People have actually started talking and noticing women’s cricket. We should have proper planning for girls from now, only then we can guarantee World Cup in 2021.
16. Your message to cricket aspirants would be?
Just one line message for everyone: Follow Your Dreams.
15. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
Female cricket is doing excellent work. Keep it up. Continue inspiring others with your work.
17. Answer in one word:
1. Your favorite cricket player?
2. Favorite place to visit / hangout spot?
Any place with family
3. Favorite cricket stadium?
SMS Jaipur stadium
4. Favorite dish?
5. Favorite movie/show?
Any Sridevi’s movie