One step further
Ever since my first live match way back in 2004 I have been a regular at KSCA so much so that the security guards at the gate recognize me despite them being changed every year.
At most of the local matches that I frequent, I am usually the only girl. Except for one other enthusiastic lady who I have noticed plenty of times. To be honest I was actually quite miffed at having to share the glory and novelty of being a cricket crazy girl, but when RCB Diva was launched I knew I had to find this cricket fan and share her story.. Shefali Kumar’s passion even managed to put me to shame .I have always been one to cheer from the side-lines.. My on field escapades include one tournament and one tournament only, an intra-collegiate competition- tennis ball , 6 overs and balls down leg were counted as 4 . Here I led my team to a loss in the finals! Getting to the finals prompted me to try out for my college cricket team.. I sprained my finger and never went back! Shefali or Shef as she is called by her friends, didn’t just play cricket, she even tried her hand at being a coach…here are excerpts from our conversation:
1. When and why did you first start following the sport?
My earliest memories are of the late 80's and early 90's of my parents watching games on TV. I personally got really interested in cricket during the 92 world cup and the love continues to this day.
2. Did you ever try to play cricket?
Yes, I have actually played cricket at different levels. Spent many school summer holidays at the Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy.
I spent a few years in England where I was fortunate enough to be captain of the University of Kent's Women's cricket team.
We also had the privilege of playing the indoor league at Lord's which was the experience of a life time.
In the late 90's I played a couple of games for Karnataka U-19's and the senior team.
3. What made you try your hand at coaching?
While in England we had a few girls on the team who had never played cricket before and there were a couple of us who would teach them the basics about batting, bowling a fielding. I guess the whole coaching aspect started there, a small informal base.
The formal coaching here in Bangalore was actually just through a friend. A couple of them asked me if I wanted to help out at KIOC (Karnataka Institute of Cricket) a couple of nights a week and I gave it a go.
I worked with 8-12 year olds girls and boys and it was an interesting experience and my first with kids.
4. What are the main obstacles you face being a woman in the cricketing world?
The main obstacles a few years ago were probably a lack of facilities for women cricketers. There weren't too many academies in the country that would let girls practice. I was very lucky that the Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy encouraged me in spite of me being the only girl.
And of course there is the mindset among many people that women cannot play sport, especially cricket.
5. Tell us a little about KIOC.
KIOC is a wonderful facility run by Mr Irfan Sait, and also probably the first in the city for women cricketers. He has always encouraged the girls to come and practice and is always willing with his time and facilities.
They have sessions all through the day and into the evening for people who have time constraints.
The big names of Karnataka women's cricket have all had encouragement from KIOC.
6. What is your advice to young girls who want to take up cricket?
I would say go ahead try it. Everyone watches matches on TV, and has advice for the players so why not go out and play. It’s a great way to make friends, play a team sport and show the people that doubt women can play cricket what you can do. The people you play sports with are the ones who you will share the good and the bad. The memories and friendships will last a lifetime.
Also I would say to the parents let your daughters go out and play cricket, do not stop them.
7. So do you have any stories from your playing days?
I remember one of the games our team played.. it was an absolute shocker and the game was finished even before lunch.. it probably just lasted 2 hours. So instead of leaving out of shame we just stayed until lunch was served.. our excuse was that it would be rude not to eat the delicious food on offer, we then went to drown our sorrows at the bar afterwards.
Also there were many times that while a match was on,, We would also have a barbecue and a few drinks during the boys game and try and tempt them during play , especially the ones on the boundary.
8. Who is your favourite player male and female?
My favourite player has always been Shane Warne but from the guys currently playing my favourite is Sachin Tendulkar... As far as Women’s cricket is concerned I admire Charlotte Edwards.