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Parents Is All The Girls Have Got - Sushree Pradhan

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Let's be honest about our introduction to cricket in Indian society. We have all grown up watching colony guys playing with 'cloth washing bat' and a plastic ball. For wickets, either some useless plank, pillar or wall used to be the resort. I'm no exception to this tradition, but to some extent, yes, I am. I am a girl. The only girl in the society who wanted to smash the ball, run between the wickets, bowl out the batsman and just wanted to be outdoors and play.

Society-cricket was fun. But, when did I fall in love with it? I could barely remember. I became the captain of the society team and never missed a game until I chose to depart.

Neither my family nor I was aware of women's cricket when I sought their permission back in 2008 to pursue cricket as a professional sport.

I only had the memory of MS Dhoni lifting the 2007 T20 World Cup trophy.

My father was surprised by my decision. As he was not aware whether India has its own women’s cricket team or not?

He repeatedly kept asking me this question for several days - Cricket? Are you sure?

I always said, yes!

One day, he came up with this idea why cricket? Why not running or some other athletic activity? It's also good.

I insisted, 'Only Cricket', nothing else. (Childishly)

Finally, my father surrendered to her daughter’s stubbornness and agreed to help me with all the requirements.

Like other girls in the country struggling to find a good facility to pursue their sports dream, I joined their community quickly.

Thanks to my father's efforts, I managed to find a coach, Khirod Behera, and ground to practice. Though, it was far, yet manageable.

You don't always get what you want. You have got to go that extra mile to get that.

A 11-year old girl, unaware of the consequences and struggles coming on her way only had one mantra, "Karna Hai" (Have to do it).

Indian Captain, MS Dhoni has always been a great influencer in my personal as well as professional life. I've grown up watching him play. His style to lead the team and maintain his calm even in the chaotic situation is beyond conventional. He is a true inspiration.

Also Read: Significant Rise in Performance after One-day debacle : Saurashtra Women

Reminding a funny incident of my early days....

Education is always given preference in a middle-class family as parents think it's the only way to a comfortable life. I was also told to do the same. Study first, cricket later. Simple.

So, after school, I had to go for tuition. Maths tuition. I wasn't satisfied with the decision, still I had to follow the orders.

My cricket was hampering this way, and I couldn't let that happen.

So, I came up with a perfect plan to balance both.

I started skipping the tuition classes on an alternate day and went to play cricket in some

temple's backyard. (Hahahaha)

It was fun away from those boring maths classes. I always prefer counting runs rather than solving algebra and trigonometry.

Lucky me.

And the Journey begins....

My day would start at 5:00 AM, followed by a 15-km cycling effort to the cricket ground. Two practice sessions - one in the morning for 3-4 hours and one in the evening for 2-3 hours were the best part of my day. The evening session was not for the girls, yet I could be spotted on the ground doing drills.

Despite spending 6-7 hours on the ground, I always requested my coach to give me extra attention at the end of the day.

Thanks to his patience and commitment towards the game, he never said no and always agreed to my request.

I guess he was aware of the fact that I was the youngest of the lot and needed special attention. Rest of the players were 4-5 years elder to me.

A couple of years rolled down like this.

Cricket became an integral part of my daily routine. I used to wake up with the cricket in mind and slept with it. I was loving this phase of my life.

I became more committed and started taking the game seriously.

I was picking up skills very fast and was also doing well in the practice matches. I thought I was ready for a bigger opportunity.

Back then, there was no Under-16 or Under-14 for girls. Only Under-19 and Seniors cricket were the options. That's all.

The 2010-11 season was almost around the corner. I was expecting to get a place in the Under-19 team. It was supposed to be my first season.

The coach trimmed down the 100 players list to 16. And declared the squad.

I was hopeful about my selection. So, wasn't exactly worrying about the names.

I was surprised when I discovered that the coach didn't include my name on the list.

I was broken and angry with the coach. (Aargh)

He explained to me, once my nerves settled down that if somehow I had put you in the list, you would only be travelling with the team, but wouldn't be getting a game in the entire season.

It's better you work on the grey areas and leave no stone unturned in preparation for the next assignment.

The coach's words were not making any sense to me for a while, but later, I realised that it was the best advice I've ever received.

Watching me grow as a player, my coach had a great sense of understanding when I'll be ready for the big tournament.

For the next two months, I worked relentlessly on the skill set I was lacking.

I hate facing pace bowling, especially when boys bowl. With girls, there is no issue, but with boys, the ball passes even before my bat gets in the line. I was scared initially but, with the time I got used to the pace.

I am glad. It was our coach and his intimidating tactics which helped me to become a better cricketer.

Into the State Team.....

I made my first appearance for Odisha Under-19 Cricket team in 2010-11. It was more of an okay season, not the one I'd be proud of.

Zonals were introduced for the Under-19 girls for the first time in 2011-12. By that time, I had established myself as one of the prominent figures in the bowling department in East-Zone. I was young but poised.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

2013 was that kind of a year for me.

One day, out of nowhere, my father asked me, "Why don't you try for the senior team?"

I said, Seniors?

He said, yes! Seniors.

I said, Papa, Kyun Majak karte ho, Abhi to mein U-19 khelne lagi hoon. Seniors kaise khel sakti hoon? (Why are you kidding. I've just started playing U-19, how can I play in the senior team?)