Wicket-keeper is the backbone of the team: Sushma Verma

Sushma Verma
Sushma Verma of India takes the bails off to run out Asmavia Iqbal of Pakistan. (Photo by Jan Kruger-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Sushma Verma has been the wicketkeeper of the India women’s cricket team for quite a while now. However, with a lot of matches coming and going, the exposure the India women are currently having at the moment is something quite extraordinary, to say the least. And Verma has been a prominent part of all of this.

However, in a recent interview to BCCI.tv, the 24-year old traversed her path back to the time where it all first started for her in her cricketing career. She began in 2009 when she had to make the difficult call between choosing her studies or choosing sport as her career option.

Sushma opened up about her journey to Indian Team, “It all started in April 2009. That was when I had to decide whether I should focus on studies or whether I should go into sports. I used to play handball, badminton, volleyball in my school so, the time had come to decide what I wanted to do professionally. During that time, I read in the news that BCCI President, Lt. Anurag Thakur is going to open a Residential Cricket Academy in Dharamsala. I went for trials and since I hadn’t played cricket before, I appeared for trials in all three departments.”

While recalling her first ever trials, Sushma said, “I first did fast bowling, but since I had not played cricket up to that point, I wasn’t aware that we have to bowl with full rotation of the arm; I used to throw. The selectors then asked me whether I know how to bat and I replied affirmatively. But that didn’t go well either so my coach said I can try for something else if I would like to. I was wearing batting leg-guards at the time and I said, ‘I will go for wicket-keeping.’ After that, the journey started in the Dharamsala Cricket Academy. I knew that I have started playing cricket late, at the age of 17, so I had to give it my all as I had very little time to adapt to techniques etc.”

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Sushma Verma also went on to add to the fact that her fitness was quite decent given the fact that he grew up in a hill station. Sushma said, “My fitness was always good, because, in Shimla where we live, I had to walk for an hour both ways through terrains while going to school. This helped me while working on my wicket-keeping. My coach Pawan Sen thought I should continue with ‘keeping because I was good.”

While remembering her first ever game, “I remember the first game when we played with the hard red ball and I was catching the nicks behind the stumps nicely. That’s when I decided to take it up professionally. In the same year, I was selected for the Under 19 Himachal team, and the next year in 2010, I became the captain. We qualified for all India nationals for the first time and finished as runners-up.”

Speaking of her learning, Sushma said, “When I started wicket-keeping my coach used to help me. He has played Ranji Trophy and was a good fielder (in his playing days). He shared with me whatever he knew about ‘keeping. Later, when I started attending camps in NCA, I came to know about Anju di, Bali sir and Devika (Palshikar) didi. These people helped me a lot in developing my wicket-keeping skills.”

On her Idol, Sushma said, “Though I started playing very late, I used to watch Adam Gilchrist. He was a brilliant wicket-keeper. At that time Rahul Dravid and sometimes Parthiv Patel would keep wickets for India. These were two-three names who I would watch and admire”

She further added, “I watch Gilchrist’s videos on YouTube and I try to follow him.” She went on to add, “I feel that the wicket-keeper is the backbone of the team and at the same time is a good analyzer of the game for the team because he or she is behind the stumps.”