What emerges from talent brings laurels. But what emerges from struggles brings revolution. Cricket as we know flourishes in the smallest of gullies and is cheered for from the Wankhede to the Lords! Hailing from Bangladesh, a highly culturally bound country comes the tigress, Salma Khatun.
One of the greatest players the Bangladesh soil has ever produced. This batting All- Rounder is not only a great gem to world cricket, but also a leader millions look forward to. Felicitated as the world’s number one All-Rounder in 2014, Salma Khatun is a great asset to cricket and her nation. We bring to you the super exciting story of this champion who has not only shaped a crucial part in Bangladesh Cricket but has inspired millions of people.
In an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Team Female Cricket, Salma speaks about how her career shaped, the story behind her success and the ideals of her captaincy.
1. Take us down the memory lane, your childhood and how cricket emerged as the most important thing in your life?
My childhood was very simple, I was always into sports and liked to play any and every game that came my way. Thanks to my cousins and uncle who introduced me to this sport. I started playing cricket with them for the sheer love of it. Gradually, I started playing it professionally and decided to take it as a career.
2. Where and when did you first start playing cricket and who all have you trained with?
I even played cricket with the neighborhood boys in home town, Khulna (a city in Bangladesh). I always felt that if boys could do it, I can also do the same. Interestingly I was the only girl who played there but I played so well that the other teammates used to call me whenever there was a match. At that time I never knew that a women’s cricket team will be made and that I will come this far. I just played cricket because I liked to play. I had no coach back then.
3. Where has Bangladesh cricket reached from the time you started playing?
The journey for Bangladesh women’s cricket team began in 2007. We made our international debut against Thailand in July 2007. We then participated and won the 2007 ACC Women’s Tournament. This was a big turning point for all of us. This opened a lot of doors for the Bangladesh women’s cricket team. We never looked back since then. In 2011, we were granted ODI status after finishing fifth in the 2011 Women’s Cricket world cup qualifiers. In 2018, we were crowned as Champions in the Asia Cup after defeating India in the finals. It was one big moment for all of us.
We worked really hard as a unit, got everybody together and developed as a team in the last 6-8 years. Our recent performance is a testimony to all the hard work and efforts we have put in all these years.
4. In 2018, Bangladesh won the first-ever Asia Cup title and there are bad days at the field as well, how do you cope with these failures and successes?
We did win the Asia Cup title in 2018 and it changed the way women’s cricket was perceived back home. But in the past, we have had several disappointments pertaining to our game and we were not able to meet the expectations. During this tough time, I made sure to stay calm and not let the pressure overrule my mind. But it’s easier said than done.
Since I come from a very humble background, I had nothing to lose. All that I ever got was only because of this game. Therefore, I never had any complaints, but only good faith that we will rise again.
5. You have a vast captaincy experience, how do you define your captaincy tactics and how has it impacted you as a player?
As a captain, I have always tried to be very clear about what is expected from the players. This has definitely inculcated a lot of discipline in me as an individual player. Captaincy always helps, it makes you a lot more responsible.
6. You were the joint-leading wicket-taker for Bangladesh in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20. What are the areas you still want to work on being an All-Rounder?
Yes. I became the number 1 all-rounder during the 2014 T20 World Cup. I am currently working a lot on my fitness and improving my skills so as to regain that position.
7. Were your parents always supportive of you becoming a cricketer? If not, what else would you have taken up as a career?
My parents have always been my biggest support system. Whatever I am today, is all because of them. If not cricket, I would have been in any other sport.
8. The team flies to the Netherlands for the T20I series, how important is the series keeping in mind the trend of T20s and also the upcoming World Cup?
After the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup, unfortunately, we didn’t get to play any international match. Therefore, we wanted to utilize any and every opportunity to train ourselves before the World Cup Qualifiers in Scotland. We played one official game against Thailand Women on 21st August.
9. The ICC Women’s World Twenty20 qualifiers are on the cards, what approach are the team and you as the captain planning to follow? How important are these qualifiers?
ICC Women’s World Twenty20 qualifiers are very important for the Bangladesh team. Just like every other team, we are going to give our best shot and are aiming to qualify for the mega event – T20 World Cup 2020 to be played in Australia next year.
As a Captain, I have my plans and strategies ready for the tournament. We are just waiting to implement them.
10. This year, we had a really competitive Women’s IPL, how much do you think such tournaments impact the game of cricket?
Tournaments such as Women’s IPL, KSL (women’s Kia super league) or WBBL (women’s big bash league) are super-important in widening the reach of women’s cricket. The respective boards have done a commendable job by introducing these league. This also reflects in their performance. When you play with players from different teams, you get to know their way of thinking, making strategies and this ultimately widens your game-plan.
11. What are a few structural changes that will take cricket in Bangladesh to a whole new level?
Bangladesh Cricket Board is trying its best to nurture the women’s cricket, they are also working on enhancing the bench-strength by introducing the U-19 team, Emerging Team, A team, etc. We also played some quality domestic leagues this year. But if we get to play more international/bilateral series, it will help us improve much better. The structural changes and efforts by BCB are working in favor of the team.
12. What were your struggles in the young days and what has been motivating you ever since? Any story that you can recall?
Once, in 2007 I had gone to visit my grandparents in Gopalganj. A couple of days later, I received news that women’s national cricket team was about to be formed and BCB was conducting the selections. One of the boys I played cricket with brought this news to my family. Without any hesitation, I left her grandparent’s place and raced to the selection ground. There were other girls such as Suktara, Baishakhi, etc who were practicing there. I did not have the sports attire that day and had gone there in the casual three-piece. I tied up my dupatta around my waist and attempted for spin bowling. Everybody present in the field that day got impressed by my performance.
“Will you do batting or bowling?”, the coach asked me. I was told that despite being a girl I played better than boys. As I didn’t have the proper sports attire, I did not continue the game that day. My coach sir Salauddin bought jersey and shoes for me the next day. That’s how I got selected for Khulna division.
I have seen enough struggles in my life. And I thankful for these moments because that has made me very strong, both physically and mentally.
13. A few words for the aspiring cricketers?
No matter whether you are playing cricket, football or swimming, you must show a good sense of discipline in the first place. Meanwhile, your behavior should be good. You should respect your coach and fellow teammates. Always remember, practice and devotion can bring you success.
14. We at Female Cricket try our best to promote and encourage women’s cricket. Help us make it better with your suggestions?
I would like to thank Female Cricket for promoting and encouraging women’s cricket around the world. You are doing such wonderful work. We keep ourselves updated with all the latest happenings in women’s cricket through your platform.
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The 22 Yard stretch that molded me, is what I hold sacred. A cricketer weaving life’s innings into words. A Rohit Sharma Admirer always. I believe writing and cricket aren’t passions, but ways of life, so truly living the dream! 😉