Player, Captain, Coach, Selector---One Woman
Sudha Shah is a woman of many hats—she has been closely associated with Indian women’s national team as a player, captain, coach and selector. Mithila Mehta has a chat with this spirited woman.
Tell us a little about your cricketing journey…
I started playing cricket at the age of 15-16 years. I played cricket from 1975 till 1991, including captaining the Indian women’s side.
Once you are in the game you don’t want to get out of the game. I am not made for administration but I am fond of coaching – infact, I was fond of coaching even as a player. From 1999-2010 I was the coach of the Indian women’s team. After that, I was a National Selector as well. So yes, I’d had the fortune of being associated with the sport in many ways!
Is coaching men different from women?
When children are very little itself, we find adults giving a bat to the boy and a doll to the girl. In that sense, boys tend to start playing the game much earlier and take to it more naturally. With girls, they tend to develop their own style. I also believe that it takes a woman to coach a woman! We may not be as physically strong as the boys, but technique-wise, we are excellent.
As a coach, how do you motivate your girls before their games?
To be honest, I don’t talk much! (Laughs) I just get there and see how it goes. I encourage them to look at the positives and take it from there.
For a young girl who loves playing cricket, what is the likely career path?
I would strongly advice young girls to start playing as early as possible. It is a great age to start right from school. Most girls today start playing cricket seriously only in college and that is too late. If you start younger, your career span will be much longer. They should aim to be on top of their game and break into the U-16 team.
Apart from playing the game, there are other options available – umpiring, coaching, match refereeing, scoring, media analysis, etc. The National Cricket Academy (NCA), for example, conducts courses.
What is the boost that women’s cricket really needs today?
It’s simple. The Indian psyche is that everyone wants to associate with the winners. If the women start performing well—and I mean really well, consistently—things will improve.
What is your message to Team RCB?
They have to win all their remaining matches –and I’m sure they will! I’m waiting for those fantastic big innings from Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle! My favourite RCB players are AB de Villiers and of course Virat Kohli—I do think it’s a really good side overall.