The girls of Shivaji Park
If you happen to be at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park at 7am, don’t be surprised to see a group of girls hard at work practicing their cover drives and fielding dives.
Dressed in their stark white uniforms, their faces wear a serious, absorbed expression. It’s only when they take a brief water break and burst into giggles that you realize how young they are. This lot of teenagers, armed with a formidable combination of spirit and skill, is the future of women’s cricket in India.
I’ll be honest. When I came to Shivaji Park (the Mecca of aspiring cricketers) one warm Saturday morning, I wasn’t really expecting to find girls playing cricket. In fact, I’d even thought of a name for the piece I’d write after my visit—“Where are all the girls?”
Luckily, I never got to write that piece. For when I strolled into Shivaji Park, I was greeted by the sight of 20-odd girls, half way through their intensive net practice!
Coaching the girls has been an absolute pleasure, says Gaitonde. “They are so enthusiastic and dedicated. They come for practice early and start playing immediately without wasting a second. The spirit with which they play is just something else.”
I couldn’t help but nod in agreement.