T20 World Cup 2020 showed how women's cricket can be a good advertisement for spectators: USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha [Interview]

I believe winning and losing get us to adapt ourselves to different situations and environments: Sindhu Sriharsha

TEJAS RATHI

Freelancer Writer

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Published - May 13, 2022, 13:19 IST | Updated - May 13, 2022, 13:23 IST

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In her teenage days, Sindhu Sriharsha cemented her place in the India A team and was a key player for Karnataka. However, limited chances as a wicketkeeper-batter in the state team pushed the then 23-year-old to try a different career. Pursuing MBA in Finance and Marketing, she got an opportunity to work with a multinational company. A couple of years later, Sriharsha got married and moved to San Francisco.

After shifting with a non-work visa, she needed something which would keep her occupied throughout the day. Sindu’s husband Sriharsha MS suggested starting the second innings of her cricket career. In 2015, she was a part of the United States of America (USA) squad for the series against Pakistan. After playing for around three-four years, she was handed an opportunity to lead the team in the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier Americas. In the same tournament, she made her WT20I debut against Canada and finished as the leading run-scorer with 80 runs in three games.

Since then, she has been leading the USA Women’s team and has garnered 159 runs in 14 WT20Is. As of now, she’s  leading the Warriors team in the inaugural edition of Fairbreak Invitational Women’s T20 2022. In an exclusive interview with CricTracker, which was organized by Eurosport India, Sriharsha opened up about the tournament and answered several questions on USA cricket.

Here are the excerpts from Sindhu Sriharsha’s interview:

You are leading the likes of Hayley Matthews and Mignon du Preez in the Fairbreak Invitational tournament. How has been the experience to share the field and lead some of the top international players?

It’s a lot easier knowing that they already know the plans, and know what they need to do. They have given me a lot of tips on batting and strategies. It’s amazing and I have tried to take as much learning as possible. There are many other leaders in the team, like Yasmeen Khan, who is the vice-captain of Namibia, and Georgia Redmayne, the captain of the Queensland team in Australia.

There is so much leadership experience in the team, and I have tried to take all the knowledge possible from them. We have an environment where everybody can walk up to us, and tell us what they want or what needs to be done as a team. We are collaborating well with each other. The results might not show but we have enjoyed playing with each other.

You are also getting a chance to rub shoulders with some of the legends of the sport. Who were you most excited to meet?

The first time I heard that I will be playing along with Hayley Mathews and Mignon du Preez, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe I will be sharing a dressing room with them and would be able to practice with them. We have picked the tips on the field or off the field, which will benefit more in our game, career, and skills, and take us to the next level. I think every one of us is thankful for the opportunity to rub shoulders with greats from the game of cricket.

There has always been a debate about women not getting equal payments as men. A few years ago, US Women’s football team was paid equally. What’s the scenario in USA Women’s cricket in this aspect?

I think Australia has already done that for women’s cricketers, and they have almost equal pay. Every full-member team, once they start actually looking into it, like England, India, and South Africa, we can reach there. I think we are not too far and we are all doing the right things to be able to reach there. The World Cup 2020 showed how women’s cricket can be a good advertisement for the spectators to come out there and see what they can do. It can take a couple of more years for the full-member nations to reach there, but we, the associate nations, are far away. The full member can reach there if we start investing in the right place.

The Fairbreak tournament has players from both full-member nations and associates. Do you think this can bridge the gap between the strong and not-so-strong teams?

It is helping to bridge the gap. You can already see the score lines in the recent games, which is something unheard of when we play associate cricket. The beat is so fast, that’s been amazing for us and now we know what we lack and what we need to be working on – areas like powerplay or some kind of thing like smart cricket. For example, we have not accessed the paddle sweep yet. It’s amazing to see the players closely and when you see them on TV, you cannot gain much.

In the field, you get to see thinking of players in different situations, and how they change their game plan and adapt. It’s amazing for each one of us and when we return to our home country and share this learning, we can only be better from here.

How easy or difficult it is for a captain to form an atmosphere and culture for a new team, especially when the tournament is short-spanned?

I should first say that the support staff has been brilliant, like Julia Price [Coach] and Sian Kelly [Assistant coach], and Julie Abbott, the Manager. They did a fantastic job to get us all together. Ahead of the season, we had zoom calls to introduce ourselves, and a few morning sessions to get to know each other. When we came here [Dubai], we knew each other to some extent. From the word go, we spend time with each other and get to know each other and build that relationship, bonding, which can go further than the two weeks we are together.

It is hard when you don’t get the [desired] results, but the objective for the team has been to trust the process. It isn’t too hard when the team is more motivated to do things and focus on personal improvements rather than the result. It hasn’t been difficult, and all of them have been energetic and keen on the tournament. In the last game of the tournament, we would look to go out there and give our best. We are still smiling and laughing around because the support staff has been quite encouraging and process-oriented rather than results-oriented.

What is your message for the budding women cricketers across the world?

First of all, any person today should play a kind of team sport. What we learn from the game, we cannot learn from the education that we get in schools or colleges. I believe winning and losing get us to adapt ourselves to different situations and environments. I would say just believe in your passion and be more resilient, and process-oriented, like most of the times I have done.

In 2011, if you would have told me I would be leading the country and also playing franchise cricket in 2021, I wouldn’t have believed it. All I did was just follow the passion and just play for the love of the game, and just be more process-oriented and the results followed.