There are not many who get a second chance in life, but there is one girl from Uttarakhand, who made the most of it when life gave her that second chance. In an exclusive interview, Uttarakhand’s senior women’s cricket team captain Anju Tomar, who is the leading run-getter for her team in the ongoing senior women’s one-day tournament, talks with Female Cricket about her humble background, cricketing journey, her recent century against Chandigarh in the senior women’s one-day tournament and more.
How and when did you start playing cricket?
I was eight years old when I started playing cricket. My father was a government employee working with Survey of India. Every day after school I used to visit him. There was a big playground in the campus where my father worked. Boys used to play cricket there. Till my father was done with the day’s work, I used to play with the boys. They played for the Survey of India cricket team. After a few days, the boys told my father that I played good cricket and if I get the opportunity I can play at a higher level. At that time my father was not too keen on developing me as a cricketer. However, I continued to play with the boys for many years.
How did you break into the domestic circuit?
It was in 2009 when I went for the Haryana U-19 trials. There were practice matches organized for the girls. It was challenging for me since I had never played on turf wickets. I was exposed to cement wickets only. However, I weathered that challenge and came out good as I scored big in those practice matches which helped me to get into the Haryana U-19 team. The same year I also played for Haryana’s senior side. On the back of my performances, I was selected for the ZCA camp. I played for Haryana for six years.
After having successful domestic seasons, you quit for personal reasons. Can you tell us about those years when you were not playing the game?
I was playing good at the domestic level for Haryana. However, I suffered from a serious injury that did not allow me to play the game for some time. During the same period, my father also retired from his government job. Hailing from a modest financial background, it was difficult for us to meet both ends. I live in a tin shed with my parents, brother, and sister. In order to support the family, I decided to not pursue cricket, but get a job. I started working as a PT teacher in a school in Bhauwala, Uttarakhand.
How did you get back to playing cricket again?
As a PT teacher, I used to take the school kids for cricket trials. It was the year 2017 when I first met Rohit Chauhan sir during the cricket trials. I had come with the school kids and while practicing with them, my game caught his eye. He came to me and asked whether I would like to play again. He had heard that I used to play professional cricket earlier. Sir told me that if I have to play cricket at the professional level, then I would have to quit the job. I discussed with my family and they supported my decision to go back to the game again. Sir was my savior as he not only provided me with all the cricket-related equipment but also offered financial help to my family. I knew it was going to be tough for me. For starters, I had to lose weight. I was weighing 80kg back then. I worked hard and shed 24kg.
When did you first play for Uttarakhand?
I was selected in the Uttarakhand team in 2017, the year in which the state received affiliation from the BCCI. I have been a part of the team for the last four overs. I was made the captain in 2018 and I have been leading the side for the last three years. Getting to play professional cricket again was nothing less than serendipity for me. Given that Rohit sir and my family have done so much for me I want to continue working hard.
Who is your role model?
Rohit Chauhan sir has been my role model. He has been there with me through all my ups and downs. He has been the guiding force through my journey. I used to be a bowling all-rounder before but after training with Rohit sir, he felt that I could be a better batting all-rounder. He worked hard on my batting skills and bowling skills. Just like him, I am a right-hand bat and right-arm-off spinner. Apart from sir, I look up to Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur.
In the recent senior women’s one-day tournament, you scored an unbeaten 124 against Chandigarh. You are also among the top 10 run-getters in the competition. Tell us about that.
I am very happy with my performance in the tournament. The 124 not out against Chandigarh is my maiden century in domestic cricket. The first century is always special.
What is your future plan?
I hope to get selected for the senior women’s one day Challenger Trophy and after that, I want to represent India.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.