An Interview with Isa Guha
I remember being fascinated by Isa Guha ever since I first saw her on TV. Intelligent, knowledgeable and beautiful she was everything a cricket presenter should be. I have been following Isa on Twitter as well (@isaguha) and found her to be particularly insightful; I was thrilled at the opportunity to interview someone I admire so much.
Isa Guha is a former cricketer,she played for England for nearly a decade, making her debut at 17 and going on to play 113 games. Isa retired in 2012 and started a successful stint on television as a presenter. If that isn’t impressive enough...Isa also graduated with 2.1 (B. Sc) Hons in Biochemistry at UCL and continues to pursue an M.Phil in Neuroscience.
She represents a welcome change in the world of Cricket Broadcasting, gone are the days when women were on screen just for aesthetic appeal. With women like Anjum Chopra, Donna Symonds and now Isa Guha in the expert chair it is becoming more and more obvious that women know the sport inside out and can comment on the nuances of cricket with Authority and knowledge.
RCB DIVA: Isa you are an inspiration to many young girls, but the journey could not have been easy. Tell us about how hard it is make a break in the world of cricket?
ISA: To be honest it is a bit tough because you have to juggle having a job or going to University alongside playing at the highest level. I have always tried to send out the message that it is possible but it involves lot of hard work and dedication. It’s important to prioritize your time and be organised to get to where you want to get to. I had a lot of support growing up because my parents always took me to training or games across the country. Especially when you get fast tracked into the national side, I made my debut at 17, it’s important to have support all around you. Its getting better now as there is a lot of support for youngsters in the game and the pathways are there to make it into the national level.
RCB DIVA: Do you think that Cricket can still be called the Gentleman’s game?
ISA: I think it was always called the gentleman’s game because of the politeness in the way people played cricket, in that respect that’s probably disappeared a little bit now. At the same it is still a male dominated sport and you have to recognise that.People will want to watch men’s cricket more than women’s cricket but I think it was our job to show people what we were capable of and change people’s perception. I think the Women’s World cup in India recently was an excellent marker of where Women’s cricket is at. It has grown so much in the last few years. You are seeing such high skill levels as well and even the smaller teams like West Indies and Sri Lanka are stepping up to the plate. I think that people realize that women actually can play!
RCB DIVA: From a Player to a presenter, not many women make that transition; tell us about your journey.
ISA: For me I actually stumbled across it. I had a lot of media exposure as a player of course but I was always the one being interviewed. About 3 years ago I got the opportunity to host the IPL in England, They needed someone from an Asian background with a bit of Cricket knowledge and that was generally why I was there, I had no previous broadcast experience whatsoever.. So it was a bit of a shock at first but I embraced the opportunity, and now 3 years down the line I have learnt so much from being on set. I have been fortunate to work with many channels. I feel like I am constantly developing, Every time you start something new there is always that period of getting used to it and obviously excelling at it. It goes without saying you have to put in a lot of hard work. I thoroughly enjoy it as well I think no matter what you do in life, you have to enjoy it otherwise you won’t get too far. You have to recognise when you aren't happy and find ways to challenge yourself further.
RCB DIVA: Men who say women don’t understand cricket obviously haven’t met you, but what do you have to say about this myth?
Isa: There are a lot more women than they think that know about cricket. You have lots of young girls really interested in cricket and especially in India there are a lot of women that really understand the sport. I think it’s a big talking point that women don’t understand cricket important to have the right role models and show people that women can talk cricket.
RCB DIVA: I know experts are supposed to be impartial but do you have a favourite team in the IPL?
ISA: I think it has to be KKR because that’s where my family is from, I have a strong affinity to them, but they haven’t played so well this season. If I have to pick a team in the top 4 it has to be Rajasthan Royals, I know its RCB Diva and I should probably say RCB as well but if there was one team I would love to party with it has to be RCB!
RCB DIVA: Would a tournament like the IPL work with Women Cricketers?
ISA: I have been saying it for a few years now that there should be an IPL style tournament for women. You have seen with T20 games in the World Cup where women’s matches were played before the men’s and essentially you get a 2 for 1 ticket , people already want to watch the men play but they filter in a bit early and they watch the women’s skills on display as well. Especially in T20 cricket it would be a wonderful thing to have a women’s IPL. Maybe not with 9 teams at first but 4 and you would need to increase the number of overseas players as well just to keep things interesting for the viewers.
RCB DIVA: Who is your favourite player of all time?
ISA: Hmm that’s a difficult question for me to answer...I have had different players in different points of my life but my role model growing up was Darren Gough, purely for his charisma, he would always make something happen on the pitch. With the ball or with the bat he always had a contribution to make and that is how I wanted to play my cricket as well. From India I really admire Dhoni as a captain and a player, I think he is so cool and calm and I wish I had those qualities when I was playing! He is such a great role model not just in cricket but for life as well, when you are in a pressure situation stay level headed and you will generally get the best out of yourself and everyone else.
RCB DIVA: What do you think of RCB’s initiative to put the spotlight on Women in sport?
ISA: Yeah, definitely I think it’s really important. IPL is such a long tournament guys want to come home from work and see the drama unfold and watch all the excitement on the field. It’s important that we focus on women as fans of cricket, because they have a lot of input and it just makes it a big family experience. Especially in India there is such a raw passion for cricket. I think it’s important to encourage women to express their point of view on platforms like RCB Diva. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you try and include people in things.
RCB DIVA: A lot of young girls want to take up cricket, what is your message to them?
ISA: If you have a passion for it and want to become the best you can be, then you must dedicate your time to it and be prepared to sacrifice some other things that make you happy. Personally in England I see a lot of young Asian girls in cricket that want to be involved in cricket, but as they get to their teens they get distracted by studies or boys or whatever. It is possible if you want to play cricket professionally or semi-professionally you have to make some sacrifices. There are more opportunities for women cricketers now so go out there and follow your dreams!
Image Courtesy: bbc.co.uk