Falak Naz is a talented bowling all-rounder from Uttar Pradesh. She has come a long way from playing canvas ball cricket in her colony with boys to making it to India Women’s U19 squad that will play against the New Zealand Development squad in a five-match T20 series in Mumbai from November 27 to December 6. Falak’s cricketing journey is nothing but exciting, from not knowing off-stump and leg stump to bowling fiery yorkers that hit the middle stump.
Female Cricket got in touch with this promising player to learn more about her cricket and how she made her way to the top, despite her humble financial background.
Falak, you have made it to India Women’s U19 squad that will take on the New Zealand Development squad in a five-match T20 series. How does it feel?
I am very happy that I am selected for India Women’s U19. It was a proud moment when I donned the India jersey for the first time. However, I know that with this selection, there is added responsibility.
Recently you played in the Women’s U19 T20 Quadrangular Series, which included India A, India B, Sri Lanka, and West Indies. Tell us more about it.
When the series was announced, I was very excited about it. Getting a chance to play against international teams is always fascinating. As a U19 team, this was the first time we had done it. It was a fun-filled experience. There was no pressure as such as our bowling coach told us to bowl to our strengths and continue doing what we have been doing in the past. The message was simple, “Don’t try anything new.”
Going back in your cricketing journey, how did it start for you?
I started playing canvas ball cricket in my colony with boys. I was the talk of my colony since I was the only girl playing cricket with boys. I had a friend with whom I played day in and day out. We placed two bricks at a distance equivalent to that between off and leg stumps. I could get him out only if the ball passed through the middle of the two bricks.
He batted for hours, and I managed to get him out only during the fag end of the day. I lasted for just two balls when I batted, and again it was his chance to bat. Besides this, there was cricket in my school. I studied at Arya Kanya Inter-College and then moved to Dr. Kailash Nath Katju Inter-College for better cricket prospects. One of my friends in my school then took me to a cricket academy. It was Sports Talent Search Cricket Academy in Prayagraj. Since both of us were into athletics, too, she made me run 10 rounds of the ground on the first day. Seeing us do that, coach Ajay Yadav sir came there and stopped us (smiles). First, he taught me batting, then wicket-keeping, and finally, he thought I could be a good fast bowler.
You said there was girls’ cricket in your school. Can you share some of your memories?
I played a lot of school cricket. Initially, when I started, I didn’t know that there was an off stump and leg stump. I just knew I had to hit the stumps to get the wicket. When I bowled, the umpire sometimes extended his arms to signal wide. I didn’t understand why the umpire did that. After the match, in the team meeting, when I asked my coach, he told me about the off stump, leg stump, and when the umpire can signal wide. Back then, I only knew that there were six balls in an over; I had to run fast and roll my arm over to bowl. I only knew about a few modes of dismissal, like bowled and catch out. I remember one incident when the wicketkeeper started appealing when she caught the ball off my bowling. I didn’t know why she did that. Later I understood that being caught behind is also a mode of dismissal.
How has your parents’ support been for your cricket?
I come from a financially humble background. My father works as a peon in a private school. Though cricket is an expensive sport, he never discouraged me from playing. Instead, I always had his back. He never stopped me from doing what I loved doing. I am very grateful to him.
When did you make your Uttar Pradesh U19 debut?
Before I played U19, I gave trials for U16. However, I was not selected. Uttar Pradesh is a big state, and there are many players. I was dejected but, at the same time, decided to work harder. After that, I played a few school-level and local matches and did well. In one of the games, I took three wickets. They were all senior players. My performance was noticed, and I was selected for the Uttar Pradesh U19 team. I made my debut in 2018. It was against Saurashtra. It was in the T20 tournament and that year we went on to become the champions. Though I had no wickets in my debut match, I covered it up in the rest of the competition. I contributed with the bat in the final, scoring a useful 15 against Andhra. When I went into bat, we were at 85. I took the team to 115. A slight difference with the bat, in the end, matters a lot in T20s.
Which has been your best performance to date?
It was against Maharashtra when I picked up a five-wicket haul. Though I have had many five-wicket hauls in school tournaments and other local matches, getting one in the Board game always feels great. Apart from this, in the Quadrangular series that we played in November, I claimed two wickets against West Indies. I opened the bowling and accounted for 13/2 in four overs.
How are you preparing for the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup just around the corner?
I have been working on my variations. I have good in-swingers and Yorkers in my armoury. Besides this, I am working towards bowling according to the field. I want to keep it simple and bowl to my strengths.
Which is your favourite mode of dismissal?
Bowled, especially with the new ball swinging into the batter
Which is your favourite wicket?
Shweta Sehrawat; She is an attacking batter. You have to think a lot when you have to bowl to her.
Who is your role model?
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, I met him once at Ekana Stadium. I just said, “I am your big fan.”
Which is your favourite food dish?
Which is your favourite movie?
What are your hobbies?
Reading Namaz, sleeping, and having fun with friends.
To read more such interesting stories of our U19 Stars, click here
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.