A true sportsperson at heart, Saloni Allot from Nagpur started playing cricket at the age of 11. Influenced by her father Late. Mr. Bhojraj Allot, who represented Vidarbha in Men’s Ranji Trophy, Saloni took up cricket and began her journey at the same club her father played at – Ruby Sporting Club.
Saloni started as a medium-pacer but eventually found her love for wicket-keeping and has never looked back since then. She idolizes Adam Gilchrist and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. If not playing cricket, you would find Saloni riding her bike or being indulged in music.
In a recent chat with Female Cricket, Saloni talks about her initial cricket days, her early struggles, what cricket means to her and how she had to juggle between Chemical engineering and cricket.
1. At what age did you start playing cricket?
I started playing cricket from the age of 11 when I was in 6th Std of schooling.
2. Tell us something about your childhood days and how you were introduced to cricket?
I was a complete introvert when I was a child but my mother made me realize the importance of facing your fears. Later, I came to know about my father, Late. Mr. Bhojraj Allot, that he played cricket for Vidarbha Men’s in Ranji Trophy, played County Cricket in England, and also played for India Under-19, I realized the fact that cricket runs in my blood. I remember my father took me to Vidarbha Cricket Association, Civil Lines ground with his old bat and we played there a bit. That is where my love for cricket began. Since then, I regularly played gully cricket with the society boys and then I never looked back.
3. Which academy did you join to take your cricket forward?
From the beginning, till now it has always been Ruby Sporting Club. This was also where my father practiced.
4. Were you always a sportsperson? What drew you to choosing cricket over other sports?
I always loved sports. In school, I played various sports at an inter-school level like basketball, throwball, shot-put throw, discuss-throw. I also played states in throwball and shot-put.
But cricket was the game which I truly enjoyed the most. It was my decision to go ahead with cricket. I also remember missing throwball national trials for attending VCA summer camp.
5. Were you always a wicketkeeper? How did it all start?
No! For my first inter-school cricket tournament I bowled medium pace. But that turned out to be the last tournament as a bowler because within a few months my coaches at Ruby Club, Ashok Nanwatkar Sir, and Nikhil Bhatnagar Sir insisted me to try wicket-keeping and I went ahead with it and that’s where it all began.
6. Who were your cricketing idols/role models growing up?
Adam Gilchrist has always been my most admired cricketer and when MS Dhoni entered cricket, no one could ignore him! They both have been my favorite!
7. How has the Vidarbha Cricket Association contributed to your career?
VCA has never failed to be the most supportive and player-oriented organization. It has never hesitated to extend whatever help for not only me but also for all my fellow teammates. We are provided with the best facilities in terms of support staff and infrastructure.
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8. As a wicketkeeper-batter, who do you look up to? Why?
It will be unfair to name one, so here are three of the best!
i) Adam Gilchrist- Because of his classy wicket-keeping style.
ii) MS Dhoni- Ultimate level of presence of mind and calmness.
iii) Anju Jain- The best in the business, especially for wicket-keepers, I was lucky enough to train under her coaching and she taught me the importance of self-belief and dedication.
She believes “Keepers are a class apart!” and she helped me live this tag.
9. You’ve had some experience as a vice-captain in the U23s, what do you think that experience has taught you?
As a wicket-keeper, you always guide the team from the center and when I was given the role of vice-captain, it was an added responsibility on me which massively improved my leadership skills. It also helped me reflect and identify the skills I need to acquire to be a better cricketer and more importantly a better human being.
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10. As a chemical engineer, how difficult was it to pursue engineering with being a professional cricketer?
When I took this decision of pursuing both, I knew it would be difficult and it was! My day used to start early in the morning and end late in the evening.
I used to go for sessions twice a day, in the morning and evening and I used to attend my college during the day as attendance was compulsory. I was fortunate enough to be able to sail in both the boats.
11. Apart from cricket, what do you enjoy doing off the field?
I love bikes and adventure! Bike rides have been the quickest getaway for me. I am also into music, I play guitar and I really enjoy dancing too!
12. Career-wise, what is your ultimate goal?
The ultimate goal in my life is to keep exploring myself as an individual and always be hungry to keep learning new things in life.
13. What role has your family played in your journey?
MAMMOTH! My family has been the strongest pillar of my life. My parents, Anju and Vinay, my sister Rashi, all have inspired me to be the best version of myself. I am because of them and even today my parents come to watch every game in Nagpur.
14. How do you think women’s cricket can be further promoted in India?
Women’s cricket in India is growing tremendously especially after the 2017 World Cup. I feel more media coverage and matches at the grassroots level are the need of the hour so that talent from the small cities and villages also get a platform to showcase their abilities.
15. What do you think about our initiative – Female Cricket? We would appreciate your suggestions.
Running an all-girls cricket academy is the best thing about your organization. I feel that you all should consider posting videos of one-to-one interviews with cricketers, as it helps the people to not only know but also see the personalities which create more impact. Also, you can go for interviews with all the female coaches, not only of India but also outside which can make a huge difference in the careers of the upcoming cricketers. Other than that, your page has always been informative and I hope that you all continue to promote women’s cricket the way you are. It has a long way to go after all and I wish you all the very best for the same!