She is the leading wicket-taker for West Indies across formats and has been playing international cricket since she was 15. In her 18-year long career, she has broken many records and there is no doubt that she would continue to do so in the years to come.
Female Cricket got in touch with Anisa Mohammed to know more about her cricketing journey that started from being a wicket-keeper bat to one of the world’s best-off spinners and more.
You have been playing international cricket for the West Indies for more than 18 years now. How does it feel?
Yes, it is a great feeling to represent your country. There are millions of people in the Caribbean who want to play cricket for their country but not everyone gets the opportunity. For me to be able to play cricket for my country for so many years, I am really thankful for all the opportunities presented to me. I cherish every moment that I get to wear that maroon and enter the cricket field.
Did you always want to become an off-spinner?
Actually, it is quite funny that off-spin was not the first thing that I started off with. I began playing cricket as a batter and wicket-keeper. I vividly recall that day when I was training with the boys on the ground. I was just bowling randomly in the nets and I got one of the boys bowled. The coach saw that and walked up to me. He asked me to show him the way I was holding and gripping the ball. Later he taught me how to bowl off-spin and leg-spin. That day I was bowling off-spin to the boys in the nets. So, it was batting, wicket-keeping, and a bit of off-spin that was part of my repertoire.
Later when I went for the U23 Nationals trials, there were already five wicket-keepers there. I thought to myself, if I go in as a wicket-keeper I have a very bleak chance of making it to the team. So when the concerned authorities asked, “Who can bowl?” I raised my hand and gave the trials as an off-spinner. You won’t believe I took three wickets during the trials and I was through. From that day, I looked up to Muttiah Muralidharan and Harbhajan Singh for inspiration.
Over the years, you have shattered many records. Which is your favorite one?
Yes, it is a matter of pride that I could make and break so many records over my long career. For me, becoming the first cricketer, male or female to pick up 100 T20I wickets is the one that I love the most.
You are just four shy of completing 300 international wickets across formats. If you had the choice, who would you want those four wickets?
Since West Indies will be playing South Africa next, I would like to achieve the 300-wicket milestone in that series itself. So, my four wickets would be Lizelle Lee, Laura Wolvaardt, Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp.
Last year you were the leading WODI wicket-taker in the world. Did you do something different?
Prior to last year, which is in 2020, I spent a lot of time doing spot bowling. Due to COVID-19, we were not allowed to train in groups. I was practicing at home and so concentrated my effort on doing spot bowling. Apart from that, I feel our coaches and staff have played an important role in my success. They give a free hand to each and every player. They do not work on changing our techniques, rather they allow us to work on our strengths. Earlier, I used to work on increasing my bowling speed but it did not yield good results. I am glad that I came back to the basics and capitalized on my strengths, rather than working on something completely new.
West Indies already have a T20 World Cup in their kitty, which they won in 2016. Are you eyeing the 50-over World Cup this year?
The memories of the 2016 T20 World Cup are still fresh in my mind. If we win the 50-over World Cup this year, it will be a cherry on the cake. The next World Cup will be four years away and I am not sure whether I will be still around playing cricket for the West Indies. I do not want to walk away with just the T20 World Cup. I also want the 50-over World Cup under my belt before I sign off from international cricket.
What do you think are West Indies’ chances in this World Cup?
We are a good team with a mix of senior and young players. We do have a strong chance of winning the World Cup this year. However, it is important to understand that playing in the World Cup is altogether a different experience. As a senior player, I would like to take the young players along with me. I would also want to lead by example with my performance with the ball.
What does the future of women’s cricket look like in the West Indies?
I think West Indies’ women’s cricket has a bright future. There are many good players, who have been practicing with us for the last two to three years. I am sure some of them will make it to the national side soon. They are working really hard on their game and I believe that these young players will be able to take West Indies cricket to a higher level.
You can also watch the Complete Interview here with Anisa Mohammed
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.