Cricket Expert Views
My goal is to make Malaysian cricket stronger and better - Winifred Duraisingam, captain of Malaysian Women’s Cricket team
Women’s cricket has significantly grown in popularity in the last few years with cricket news extensively covering all major women’s tournaments and iconic names inspiring the next generation of girls to take up the sport. While there are generational performers such as Ellyse Perry, Sarah Jane Taylor, Jhulan Goswami to name a few, who have proven innumerable doubters wrong, the role of women cricketers, especially in countries where cricket is still growing is equally important to lay the foundations in place.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, we’re speaking to one such cricketer, Ms. Winifred Duraisingam, captain of the Malaysia women’s cricket team. She spoke about her introduction to the sport and playing professionally, inspiring girls to take up the sport, grassroot development in Malaysia, experiences at the highest level, responsibilities as a captain and future goals.
Q 1) When did you first start playing cricket and what made you take up this sport professionally?
I started playing cricket outside the house, on the street as a young 8 year old. It has been more than 10 years since the boys started playing cricket on the street outside my house when I started to join. What made me start playing was seeing my brother Derek, who played this sport with the other boys. It made me want to join them and play as well. At the age of 8, I asked them if I could join in and bat but they were opposed to the idea because I was a small girl. Thankfully, my uncle David came up with a rule that anyone who gets the wicket will be able to bat. That being said, he even told me that he will teach me how to bowl. It felt really fun when I started to bowl and take wickets. The boys ended up keeping quiet and felt shy because a girl was taking their wickets. From there onwards, I enjoyed bowling more and the fire to continue bowling kept increasing. At the age of 13, I played for the Kuala Langat Club. I was the only girl who played and was the bowler. During this tournament, I played against the ex-Malaysian national player, Mr. Hector Durairatnam. He approached my uncle and asked who was that small boy who bowled against me earlier. To his surprise, my uncle replied, "that's my niece". Coincidentally, at that time there was a selection for the national team as well and they asked me to join the national team selection. I was at the mere age of 14 years old when I started representing my country in this sport. That's how I started playing cricket and never stopped loving the game.
Q 2) You are one of the 15 National Women cricketers to be awarded a contract by the Malaysian Cricket Association. In your opinion, how big of an impact will it have in encouraging more girls to take up this sport?
In my opinion, being one of the 15 National Women cricketers to be awarded a contract by the Malaysian Cricket Association has encouraged me to work harder. Since the valuation of the grade for each player will be reviewed once in three months, it is a must for every player to increase or maintain their performance. Plus, being given a monthly remuneration will definitely help me financially. I believe many girls out there will be driven to try their hand at cricket when they notice the rewards which comes along with it and strive to do their best at this sport
Q 3) What are the other activities or initiatives the MCA has undertaken to develop Women's and grassroots programs in Malaysia?
MCA has taken many initiatives to develop Women's Cricket. For example, MCA has focused on the young generation and curated a program called Adiwira. This event has been turned into a competition that has been held in many schools around Malaysia. Moreover, many more schools have collaborated with MCA to become a center where pupils can train under a proper training programme during their school days. This has allowed the expansion of the women’s team and participation. We can see the results from this expansion when Malaysia sent quite a number of U19 girls to China for a tournament.
Q 4) You were also among the 8 women to participate in the Men's MCA T20 Super Series 2020. Tell us about your experience in it?
It is very exciting as I got the chance to face new types of bowlers and batsmen. I would say it’s a lie if I didn't feel scared facing them, but I learned so many things on how to handle them during the tournament. As a captain for the Women's team, I took that opportunity to learn leadership skills with my captain during the tournament. Playing with the Men's team has really given me a new sight on how to become a better cricketer.
Q 5) As a captain what do you do to keep your team in high spirits and keep the dressing room environment positive and light?
As a captain, I will always give my full support to my teammates whenever they feel down in the field and even outside. It is very important for me to be patient in terms of handling my team during the game. If I lose my patience, I am sure my team will follow suit as well. This is a behavior I’d like them to avoid especially during training and game time. As for the situation in the dressing room, a positive environment definitely plays an important role in making sure the team feels positive vibes. For me, I will make sure the dressing room is clean and tidy. The players are discouraged from backbiting and cursing each other about an incident that happened during training or at the game. It is a need for me and my fellow teammates to listen to music before our games to boost our mood and lift our spirits.
6. What are your future goals and aspirations as the skipper of the Malaysian team and how do you plan to achieve them?
As the skipper, my ultimate goal would be to stand alongside my girls at the top of the cricket rank. I want to be the one who leads them towards those achievements and more. I will begin by setting a target for the women’s cricket team to be at the 25th rank. It will be my job to push them to the limit where we will train more and do better at each training session so we can be stronger and keep getting better. Besides that, I will ask them to watch more games together to make our bond tighter and our spirits continue blooming while expanding our knowledge. Plus, this is one way to continue learning the art of being a great cricketer. The goal is to continue learning the tricks and master valuable skills like some of the best women cricketers, Ellyse Perry and Heather Knight. Despite the pandemic, I believe there’s more that my team can achieve and as their support system, I’ll continue setting monthly and quarterly goals with them and have sit down sessions to see how we can tackle those goals and prep ourselves for worldwide competitions once we head back to some sort of normalcy again.
AI will enable players to get quality training, reduce injury risk and help reach their true potential - Arminder Thind, Founder of StanceBeam
Sports technology has crossed leaps and bounds as you may have read in the cricket news since the last few years, giving a significant competitive advantage to its adopters. It gives new data and insights about player performance, monitor training sessions, compare progress and much more to break previously established limits and add a whole new dimension to the world of sports.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Arminder Thind, Founder of StanceBeam speaks about the role of AI and its benefits, StanceBeam striker, raising the standards of sport through technology, implementing feedback from end users and his vision for the future of innovations in sport.
Q 1) As a founder of StanceBeam, what led you to foresee the future of sports being driven by technology? What is your aim and vision for this company?
Working in the sports-tech space for over 6 years and being sports players ourselves, we experience few key challenges - lack of curriculum based and data driven coaching leading to untapped player potential. Limited availability of trained coaches so their time is spread very thin for players and the problem aggravates more for non urban players. We continue to hear stories of players travelling hundreds of kilometers to get access to coaches and training facilities or even worse, a lot of talent never get a chance to show talent and excel in sports. Our VISION is to empower players globally to play sports, stay fit and achieve their true potential by breaking the barrier of physical places to train and the right coaches to train with.
Q 2) How is Artificial Intelligence changing the face of sports? What are its benefits for the sporting industry?
As of today, we have multiple start-ups like StanceBeam working on ground breaking ideas in sport-tech space, from fan engagement to player performance improvement and injury prevention. StanceBeam is specifically leveraging AI in conjunction with IoT devices to gather data to attempt to optimize training and performance of the players. With so much innovation happening in this space, there are very healthy signs of adoption of sports-tech at consumer level, though it’s currently at an early adoption stage.
Q 3) What sort of data does StanceBeam striker provide that will turn a regular bat into a smart tech device? How will it benefit the players and coaches?
The StanceBeam Striker is the most accurate Cricket Bat sensor and is designed to fit on top of any Cricket bat which turns it into a Smart Bat. StanceBeam app seamlessly connects with StanceBeam Striker to provide you real-time feedback and give players a view of their game never seen before. Smart Video Capture capability of the StanceBeam app allows automatically to record 4 seconds of video per bat swing, Tag it with the players every shot and overlay swing metrics. The Stancebeam measures a unique set of metrics in real-time – with each swing of a cricket bat – including Power Analysis, Shot Efficiency, Max Bat Speed, Speed at Impact, Bat Angles, and Directions. StanceBeam app also produces a summary session, highlights and insights for each session and players can compare their progress over time, share stats/videos with their coaches for further feedback and improvements. To build a better player - we need to build a better coach. Providing key information traditionally only available to elite coaches in a controlled lab situation can now be used anywhere and be tracked in real time, or remotely - working around the modern cricketing world - where players will be away from the home base for months at a time. StanceBeam App allows coaches to manage multiple players within the app. Coaches can also create a big impact on players' improvements by giving data driven feedback using Mobile Video Analysis, Audio and Text Notes, Session Rating, and assign Video drills.
Q 4) How is StanceBeam bringing its technological innovations in the hands of aspiring cricketers? Do you believe it will significantly raise the standard of sports in our country?
The StanceBeam device made in India is available in multiple countries including India as well as e-commerce channels like Amazon. Kookaburra, a leading Cricket Brand, is our distribution partner for key global markets. Being a new category product and cricket being such a traditional sport, changing players and coaches' mindset about a data driven approach for better performance is not easy. So we have been working with progressive coaches, academies and associations across India to enable access to our technological innovation to the cricket players. We are glad that now we have a good number of players and coaches across the globe who have used our technology and seen a positive impact on their training regime and overall performance – 1 million plus cricket shots have been recorded on StanceBeam so far and counting. We have kids in India training with coaches in Australia on our platform. We’re breaking the access barrier, especially for players from small towns. Throughout COVID-19 pandemic, we have many players who were able to stay in touch with coaches and continue their training regime.
Q 5) How is StanceBeam incorporating feedback from players and coaches to constantly make improvements to its services for a more useful and better experience to end users?
At the heart of what we have done is focus on the player - building an experience that can help them with their game - both in the nets and on the pitch. By focusing on what’s important - seamless integration, meaningful data and feedback with technology that isn’t intrusive - we are delivering what will help refine the next generation of players. Through our research and development, design and implementation, software and hardware - we have been focused on creating the most accurate and interactive experience for our customers - allowing for no compromise in terms of accuracy, interactivity and uniqueness to create an experience not only relevant for cricket - but in answering the demands of our customer. What we have developed could only have come from seamless customer integration and feedback. Other than 10,000 plus players and 500 coaches on the platform which continue to inspire us to do more for them, we are fortunate to have Shikhar Dhawan as mentor and regular user of StanceBeam and share his feedback to make it more useful for players. Since everyone in the StanceBeam team are passionate sports players and fans, we spend considerable time with coaches and working in academies so we stay on ground to understand our customers’ requirements/feedback and solve their real problems.
Q 6) What do you envision in the future use of AI in sports? What sort of technological innovations can we expect and how do you think it will revolutionize the sports industry?
AI which is humanised and has a real human perspective will be a game changer. It will allow actionable insights on player performance and injury risks and let coaches/players make more informed decisions. Just as an example, StanceBeam generates an abundance of data via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, video and audio during player session captures. However, the data by itself does not provide any value unless we can turn data into actionable, contextualized information. Artificial Intelligence provides us the tools and framework to perform real time data analysis and actionable insights with complete automation. AI will enable players more quality training time and manage load to reduce injury risks.
My objective is to help Malaysia win matches with my batting ability - Ahmad Faiz, Malaysia Men’s Cricket team captain
A captain in any sport is a role that is widely unappreciated by the onlookers. It’s not just about commanding your teammates, being the boss or taking credit in the cricket news. Just like a management position in any corporate role, it involves composure, decision making skills, taking risks and claiming responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. A captain is a leader who is approachable, respectable and has the insatiable desire to win.
For the Malaysian Cricket team, Ahmad Faiz is a captain that has navigated his players through memorable highs and crippling lows. He has won over the fans with his performances and led by example in a sport that is still getting its footing in Malaysia. In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Ahmad Faiz speaks about being introduced to cricket, pursuing the sport professionally, memorable moments, giving credit to others, future goals and more!
Q 1) When were you first introduced to cricket and how did your interest in the sport grow?
My father Mr. Mohammad Noor Shuib was a Kedah Cricket State Coach, so I used to follow school/state training and tournaments since I was 5 years old. I remember when I was 8 years old, Kedah cricket players Ikhwan Rosli, tied me up with senior pads where the pads covered my whole body to practice together with them. Kedah players always wanted to play with me, even when I was a little boy. From there, I picked up the sport very fast. My first trial was at primary school, Ustaz Rizalman was my first coach at Sekolah Rendah Ibrahim who wanted me to try out my skills. I just bowled one over where all the balls were very good for a 10 years old boy, with no extras and I also hit the stumps twice. From there on, he asked me to join school, district and state training in the same year. My first Malaysia Cricket duty was Under 13 Tuanku Jaafar held in Hong Kong when I was 12 years old and we were crowned as champions in that tournament. It was a big step forward for me to play cricket at that moment.
Q 2) What are the challenges one needs to overcome in order to take up the sport of cricket professionally in a country like Malaysia where it isn't a mainstream sport?
Currently, Cricket in Malaysia is gradually getting more popular as the Ministry of Education (MOE) supports cricket by setting a cricket curriculum syllabus from primary school to secondary school. MOE also supports our new entrance programme, we call it ADIWIRA CRICKET which is also sponsored by Sime Darby Foundation, one of largest Malaysia government linked-company. Cricket is definitely becoming one of the top sports in Malaysia and we are progressing and getting more grassroot participants such as teachers and students at the school level. It will take time to invest in making cricket one of the main sports in Malaysia. We are also targeting parents' involvement as the main stakeholders of our resources for the incoming new players. More awareness surrounding the community will evolve the spirit of the game. Malaysian Cricket already implements a contract base for Malaysian Mens and Womens senior teams, which also help the players to pursue their career as cricketers. Currently, we have improved our ranking status but it's still not enough for us to be top 12 in the world and we are looking to progress it by the year 2025.
Q 3) You were the member of the Malaysian Cricket team which won the gold medal in 50 overs tour at the 2017 South East Asian Games. How special was that win?
It was the most overwhelming moment for me to represent my country and score a century in front of thousands Malaysian supporters. I still remember the roar and the claps from supporters in the stands, they shouted my name so many times. They gave me a standing ovation when I raised my bat after scoring a century against Singapore and once I got out, their faces were full of smiles and showed gratitude for my performance. We played really well as a team on that day. I was supported by Virandeep Singh at a crucial time and we made a big run partnership. We celebrated like true champions after we scored the last run of the game. Every teammate ran towards the batsmen and we also ran towards the spectator pavilion to celebrate with the fans because they all are our 12th men surrounding the field. It was a special day for Malaysian Cricket when we beat the Singapore team who had a better ranking than us at that time.
Q 4) Malaysian Cricket has been enjoying decent success in the T20 format off late. Who would you like to give credit for this?
Overall, I would like to give credit to all the players, coaches, MCA administrative officials and staff for all the sacrifice and hard work that has led to our success. Bilal Asad has proven his ability to lead the Malaysia Men's team, resulting in them being crowned champions again after he took the head coach position again in January 2020. Our performances and results have gotten better since Bilal came into the team. We also got support from many assistants like our trainer Shukri Rahim who looks after our fitness levels, our physio Yuvaraj for taking care of our injury status, coaches such as Aimal and Wahib who look after our overall requirements, psychologist like Madhuli ma’am who helps us maintain our mental health and our manager Mr. Amy Mokhzani who looks after our overall welfare.
Q 5) What are the areas that you think Malaysian Cricket needs to address for it to take it's recent success into ICC tournaments?
We have very good exposure thanks to our friends in Singapore, Nepal and Sri Lanka where we can travel and get the opportunity to play in different conditions. We need more competitive tournaments like the IPL, PSL, BPL, Global T20 to give more exposure to Malaysian cricketers so that we face better opponents as it will benefit the team.
Q 6) You finished as the leading run scorer of the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Four tournament. What was that experience like?
Actually, I did not know that I was the leading run scorer at that moment. My major objective is to win any Malaysia match by using my batting ability as my strength. Yes, I am happy that we moved from Division 6 to 4 in only 2 years in the previous years but I don't feel I have enough runs because I can't bring Malaysia to Division 3 due to my lack of runs for the team at 2018 World Cricket League tourney which we finished at number 3, resulting in Malaysia staying in Division 4.
Q 7) As a Cricketer and the captain of the Malaysian team what are you next looking forward to?
For now, we look at the T20 qualifiers and our aim is to reach the top 12 in the world rankings by 2025. We are also looking forward to playing against better opponents in the near future to give us a better pathway to progress. We are also looking forward to exposing our players to play at Global T20 by Canada Cricket. In a very sensitive Covid-19 situation, we remain optimistic and continue to train individuals and conduct team training via online platforms.
An in-depth analysis of Joss Buttler’s batting style against pace and spin
On May 2nd 2021, Joss Buttler hit his maiden century in the IPL off just 56 balls. Playing against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he scored 124 (64) which helped his team put up a huge total of 220 which later on was too much for the opponent to chase and hence won the match by 55 runs.
With the T20 World Cup happening this year, England is surely one of the contenders to win the cup. The evidence of which we saw in the recently concluded T20 series against India that went down to the wire. Joss Buttler is surely going to be the key for them, from whom they would want fiery starts.
From an Indian point of view, let's have a look at how he plays pace & spin.
Overall Record :
When we look at his overall numbers, it seems that he is a bit weaker against Spin than Pace. Against Pace he has an Average of 42.1 and Strike Rate of 164.4 but against Spin his Average is 40.9 & Strike Rate is 134. There may not be enough drop in average but his Strike Rate against Spin is quite low when compared against pace.
Let’s have a look at his year wise stats.
Pace vs Spin ( Year Wise ) :
Looking at the numbers, it's quite evident that he has improved himself against Spin. In 2018 his average was just 40 with a Strike Rate of 137, which has significantly increased to 66.5 and 147.8 respectively.
But his numbers against Pace have been quite poor. Ever since 2018, his average & Strike Rate both have been declining. Let's jump into the details of how he has played against different pace & spin bowlers.
SR and Avg against different bowling types
When we dig deep into his numbers, we find that he is really good against Left Arm Off-Spin. He has a staggering average of 171 and an SR of 147.4. Against Left Arm Fast & Right Arm Fast his Strike Rate might be above average around 150s. But his average is below 40.
Also, it's quite evident that he struggles against Left Arm Leg spin & Right Arm Leg-Spin. Although he has not faced enough balls of Left Arm leg-spin (18) still against the Right Arm, he has an average of 23 and an SR of 126.4.
To understand better, we got to have a look at his Strike Rate in the first 10 balls. Where a batsman is quite hesitant and low on confidence.
SR in first 10 balls:
By looking at his Strike Rate we find that he struggles a lot against Right Arm Leg-Spin in the initial phase of his innings. Where he is not even able to Strike at run a ball. He just has a Strike Rate of 86 against Right Arm Leg Spin.
Let’s look at his Boundary & Dot Ball % against different type of bowlers.
Boundary & Dot Ball % :
When we look at this matrix , it is clearly visible that Joss Buttler’ boundary & dot ball % against Right Arm Leg Spin are below average. His Dot ball % is 42.64 & Boundary % is 55.21.
Against Left Arm Off Spin he is too good, has a Boundary % over 50 & Dot Ball % below 30.
From the current Indian team, who is most likely to be in the first 11 who can trouble Joss Buttler is Yuzvendra Chahal. Let's see how Joss has tackled him in the IPL.
Buttler vs Chahal:
Out of 26 balls that Joss faced off Chahal, he has just managed to score 25 runs at a Strike Rate of 96. Hitting just 1 Four & 1 Six, where Chahal has even managed to dismiss him once.
The above analysis takes us to a conclusion that Chahal could be the Key against Joss Buttler in the T20 World Cup. It might be risky but worth taking a chance, which would allow India to get an early breakthrough and thus allow them to put the opponents under pressure.
About the Author :
Saksham Alag is an aspiring Cricket Analyst. He has experience in conducting performance analyses on IPL and elite players, and liaised with cricketers including Sohail Tanvir, Sheldon Cottrell, Nkrumah Bonner, and Jaya Sharma. He has also worked on compiling scouting reports, client reviews and engaged with cricket clubs.
LinkedIn: Saksham Alag
It was a huge privilege to represent my country at such a young age - Ireland cricketer Gaby Lewis
Ireland's star all rounder Gaby Lewis epitomizes what they call a 'young prodigy achieving great things'. Having made her International debut at the age of just 13, Gaby is the third generation of Lewis family pursuing cricket. In 2018 Lewis was named as one of the five breakout stars in women's cricket by ICC.
The 20 year old is a fierce competitor and has been instrumental in scripting many victories for her national and domestic sides, inarguably making her a player to watch out for in International women's cricket.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, the young gun talked about her debut, her journey so far and the most influential people in life.
Q 1) How was it representing your country at the age of 13? What according to you have been the highlights of your journey so far?
It was a huge privilege to represent my country at such a young age. To be honest I don’t quite remember much of the day but I remember how nervous I was but also how welcoming and friendly my teammates were.
I have a few highlights so far but if I was to pick out just one it would be winning the Qualifiers in Thailand. It was a great tournament to be involved in.
Q 2) Who were your idols or role models growing up? How big of an impact your family's cricketing legacy had in you taking up the sport professionally?
Clare Shillington was someone I looked up to growing up. She moved to my club and I got the opportunity to open the batting with her and I learned a lot from her.
Growing up in a cricketing family was obviously the reason that I started the game but it was my decision to pursue the career semi-professionally. There wasn’t any pressure on me to stay in the game from my family, it’s always been me because I love the sport.
Q 3) What is your post match unwind routine?
I don’t really have one to be honest, just a big feed and a good night's sleep!
Q 4) Who have been the most influential people in your journey so far? What role have they played in making you who you are today?
As I mentioned above Clare Shillington, but also my coach from when I was a kid, Kamal Merchant. He has had a massive impact on me being where I am today. I have worked with him from a very young age.
Q 5) What are your expectations from the 2022 ICC Women's World Cup? How well can the Irish team fare according to you?
I assume you mean the 50 over World cup. We have our qualifying tournament for it in December in Sri Lanka. We obviously hope to qualify and know that we will need to play our best cricket for that to happen. We have our Super Series competition this summer to help us prepare which has been brilliant. The standard has improved tremendously from last year and hopefully that will be of huge benefit for when we go to Sri Lanka.
Q 6) What are you looking forward to next?
I am looking forward to a lot of cricket this summer after 20 months off. We have started our season and I’m loving it so far so can’t wait for what the rest of the season holds
Q 7) Any message for the young girls aspiring to be future cricketers?
Keep enjoying the game and take every opportunity you can get.
American College Cricket has laid the foundation for the sport that others can build on - Lloyd Jodah, Founder and President of ACC
It’s fair to say that cricket is not the most popular sport in the USA. For a country where the most popular sport in the world - football, (also known as soccer) probably occupies the fourth spot behind American football, basketball and baseball, it’s a reasonable assumption that cricket’s popularity, particularly in the Indian subcontinent, has not caught up with this part of the world. However, American College Cricket is on a mission to promote cricket at the Universities and bring it to the forefront to become a mainstream sport in the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Lloyd Jodah, Founder and President of American College Cricket speaks about its success, promoting cricket and universities, challenges that he has faced, organizing tournaments and future goals.
Q 1) Since its formation in 2008, how successful has the American College Cricket been in growing the Sport in America & Canada?
American College Cricket created a new platform for cricket and is by the far the most successful cricket organization in US history. To use the major example of broadcasting:
1 - American College Cricket did the 1st Live stream of cricket in USA in March 2010
2 - Oct 2011 we were the first (& so far only) organization to broadcast cricket on American TV
3 - American College Cricket was the 1st, and still only entity to broadcast cricket in the USA on ESPN when we did our March 2014
National Championship Final. We were also the 1st non-international cricket to be broadcast by ESPN, before the IPL.
4 - in 2016 we did an agreement with SONY and each year SONY does our National Championship Semis & Finals. Had it not been for
the Covid shutdown our 2020 Championship Semis and Finals would have been on SONY LIV in India.
We even brought the 1st major US corporation into cricket sponsorship in the USA when we got Coca Cola in 2012, then in 2015/16
when Dream11 was in its early stages it was our sponsor.
Q 2) What is being done to promote Cricket at grassroot level in the US?
Non- Americans always ask this question without understanding that the grassroots for American sport has always been college (University). Every other level comes after that. We created a platform for the game at the college level in the USA as Wisden recognized US cricket in 2014 saying, "the most promising development has been the formation of American College Cricket. Founded by Lloyd Jodah, ACC now has teams at over 60 universities…. perhaps because of this show of interest, in 2011 ESPN bought the US broadcast rights to all future international cricket matches, including the 2015 World Cup.”
Therein is the answer, American College Cricket has laid the foundation (though USA is so large the work is never done) it's up to others to build on that.
Q 3) What are the major challenges you face while promoting and growing Cricket in a country where the Sport isn't quite popular?
Everything, cricket, social, economic. One example is that cricketers don't look around and "do as the Romans do". For example I've started college clubs which then went and played in non-college leagues, clearly not understanding their brand value. This never happens in other college sports, colleges only play vs other colleges in USA college sports. Cricket would have been much further along in development in the USA if cricket players didn't proceed as if blindfolded.
Other examples are: when we started doing TV, we couldn't find fields with electrical power. Getting players to show up punctually. Getting fields with proper outfields. Getting money to execute ideas. I could list challenges all day.
Q 4) Besides immigrants from Cricket playing nations, do other Americans also get involved with the game?
Immigrants usually become Americans. Traditionally the USA is not like many other countries where immigrants remain outsiders, generally speaking.
I will say this, at the college and professional levels (American) football and basketball are mainly Black, whilst Ice Hockey is mainly White. The NBA is about 75% Black, the NFL about 70%, the NHL is about 93 % White, yet cricket's demographics are always questioned. I don't care what ethnicity or nationality is playing my game, as long as it's being played. Let's show what's great about cricket, and maybe we might attract people new to the game.
When American College Cricket teams step on the field, they are American institutions wearing "American uniforms" playing the game, and their ethnicity is irrelevant. They represent their universities, not their ethnicity or nationality.
Q 5) What are the major tournaments being played at University levels and what is the response these games receive?
When I began American College Cricket in late 2008 that was the beginning of college cricket in the USA in modern times. Cricket in colleges before that was tennis or tape ball internally, and unorganized. We started cricket clubs in over 100 colleges and nearly every college that now has an organized club in USA is due to American College Cricket, either because I had a direct involvement in starting the club, or a student was motivated by hearing about American College Cricket,or seeing our videos or photos (we've been the only cricket organization in USA, since 2010, to have thousands of cricket action pics).
When we started, colleges spent $0 on cricket, but we motivated all colleges that have participated in American College Cricket to provide facilities for practicing and playing, and varying amounts of $$ to partially fund their clubs' activities. Just as important, every club that has participated in American College Cricket has been written about in their college media, which exposes the game to so many more students, and embeds it in American society.
We've had a National Championship since 2009, Regional Championships since 2010, a USA vs Canada Series since 2015. We've had 546 games in our National Championships and 633 in our Regional championships,and 23 in our USA vs Canada Series. Our National Championship probably has been the largest cricket tournament ever, for example in 2011 we had 67 matches in 5 days (played by 32 teams). I brought down the size to about 50 matches subsequently, and even less now.
Q 6) Where do you see the future of American Cricket and in your opinion when we will see America's national team competing with major Cricketing countries?
America might compete with major cricketing countries soon because it recently achieved ODI status, and the new USA Cricket body seems to be bringing players from cricket playing countries. On the other hand there are "Test" countries that have economic, organizational, political and other issues unfortunately which affect their performance so it'll be easy for USA to catch up on the field. Only India can be happy about cricket's status in their country, and even there soccer may challenge it in about 20 years.
However merely competing at a higher level is not by itself development. Cricket "development" faces countless issues but the biggest one is the ICC law for ODIs and T20s which says that any ball down the Leg Side is a wide - this has created a game that is divorced from real cricket, and made the game Baseball-like, with a set "Strike zone". A poor imitation of Baseball will not make it in the USA when there's real baseball. Who would be intrigued by a batsman pulling (a baseball like shot) with a broad flat bat when it's more challenging for a baseball batter to play the same shot with a smaller round baseball bat ?
Additionally the ICC has ignored what American College Cricket has done - what kind of International body ignores what we've accomplished for the game over the past 12 years in the toughest sports market in the world? How do you invade the USA and ignore an American's success in giving cricket a real chance in the USA ? I go more into this in my forthcoming book.
“Our vision is to make cricket a major sport in Malaysia as we aspire to play in the World Cup”- Dinesh Muthuraman, COO of Malaysian Cricket Association
Cricket in Malaysia has a longstanding history dating back to early 1880 and in 1967, Malaysian cricket was admitted as an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Malaysia has seen cricket evolve over the years and of recent, there is rapid growth, especially among the ethnic youth. Through many sustainable structures in place, Malaysian Cricket is on its way to realising its vision of being a major sport in the country with a world -renowned team.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Dinesh Muthuraman, Chief Operating Officer of Malaysian Cricket Association, shares his insights about the growth of cricket, the vision forward, grassroot development, increasing female participation and what the future looks like for Malaysian Cricket.
Q 1) Malaysian cricket has a very rich history, started by the British and becoming the associate member of the ICC. How has the journey been? Please share light on the growth of Malaysian cricket.
Malaysia has a very rich cricket history. Being a British colony, the game was introduced in 1880’s and the British formed the first cricket club at the Royal Selangor Club which still holds several tournaments to this day. Going back in time, the first recorded match was played between the state of Selangor and Malacca in 1887. No doubt, cricket was always associated as an elite sport.
Malaysian Cricket Association has since embarked on making the sport accessible to every Malaysian and there was no better place to start than in the national schools throughout the country. The country houses more than ten thousand schools and today we even have cricket in the school syllabus for the primary and secondary students.
Today, we have our state affiliates working hand in hand with the national association who continue to work tirelessly towards growing cricket in all schools. We train the teachers and develop sustainable programmes for cricket at all levels to enable continuity and growth of the sport with the support of the state education departments and the Ministry Of Education.
All this is aside, we have clear pathway programmes that can provide our talents with a career in the sport. There are in addition, high profile clubs in the country with their own teams and they organise their own inter-port matches.
Through all of these developments, Malaysian cricket has earned credibility and has had many parties reaching out to partner us in various capacities. Towards this end, we are pleased to see an upward trend.
Q 2) As the COO of the Malaysian Cricket Association, what is your vision, and the path you plan to take for Malaysian cricket board?
In order to be a major sport in Malaysia, we have embarked on making cricket accessible and known, beginning at the grassroots. In 2010, cricket was played in around 154 schools and most of these schools were the country’s top boarding schools.
Currently, Malaysia has more than 10,500 schools. In our quest to promote cricket to all the schools, we worked towards putting solid structures in place, obtained sponsorship for educational pathways for the players and most importantly, we gained support from the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Education making our efforts sustainable.
With the backing of the ministries, we were able to follow in the footsteps of major cricket playing countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh and introduce a School Cricket Programme. Our programme encompasses courses for school teachers to learn the basics of the sport which will then enable the teachers to cascade the knowledge and skill to their students.
Through the introduction of the school programmes, we are assured of recruiting more locals to play for the country which will be far more sustainable for the development of the cricket in Malaysia in addition to providing a better future for the player and their families, elevating their socio-economic status. We see it as a win -win for all.
Q 3) The ICC has just announced changes to its 50-over World Cup format being expanded to 14 teams and the T20 World Cup format expanded to 20 teams and will be held every two years. How does it impact Malaysia’s cricket team?
We welcome the changes made by the ICC for the 50 overs World Cup format and the fact the T20 has been increased to twenty (20) teams. This is a positive move by the ICC and we thank them for the inclusion of more teams, as it now gives better opportunities for associate countries like Malaysia to participate and reach our goal of playing in the World Cup.
When a nation empowers its teams to participate in global tournaments, then promoting the sport locally will come with ease. The team is at present working hard to qualify for the CWC world cup while Malaysian Cricket Association is looking towards giving them international exposure. Recently, our national team played in the tri-series in Nepal. They played against high-ranking teams namely the Netherlands and Nepal. We have a few international tournaments lined up for the fourth quarter of the year for both the men and women’s teams in preparation for World Cup qualifiers.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tournaments are now at a standstill. Under normal circumstances, we would have been playing in the 2nd round Challenge League in Canada this August. This tournament however has been rescheduled to be played in Malaysia in December 2021 and the 3rd round will be played in Canada in 2022. With the T20, it is open to all the participating countries and Malaysia will be playing the ICC Sub regional Asia qualifiers in November this year. If we were to win, it would put us in good stead to play in the World Cup qualifiers.
Q 4) Which are the major leagues or tournaments being played at school and state levels and what is the response that these games receive? Please elaborate on the grass root development programs.
We have introduced the Cricket Adirwira program which is an entry level program with modified cricket rules that can be played anytime, anywhere by anyone. Through the Cricket Adiwira, programme, both teachers and students are able to understand the game as we have simplified rules and the game is played using tape-ball. Seeing as it is not possible to engage coaches for all the 10,500 schools, this simplified version is the best way to introduce the game to the teachers.
In Cricket Adiwira, all players will have equal opportunity in batting, bowling and fielding. Through this program, we have introduced cricket to around 1,500 schools & 2500 teachers. The school teachers now understand the rules of basic cricket. We still have to reach the remaining schools and our target is by the end of 2025.
Cricket Adirwira is an eight-week programme. Upon completion, the players will be moving to a competition called T10 blaze after which they will progress to T20 blast. The Ministry of Education organised an U 12 and U18 tournaments for the boys starting from the district level, then the state and on to the national level. Apart from this, MCA organised in collaboration with MOE a national school championship for the U12 and U18 for both boys and girls and also an interstate tournament for U16 and U19 for the states associations and the best players from these competitions will be selected for the National age group camps. We are very invested in bringing cricket to the grassroots which will then produce more national players.
Q 5) Malaysian Cricket off late has been faring decently especially in the T20 format. What are the factors you think are responsible behind the team's success? How do you plan the team performance in ICC tournaments?
Well, it all starts from within, and with our players, although not overnight, we inculcated a ‘winning mentality’, we had to make them believe in their ability. We see the results surfacing, currently, 90% of our players are local. Prior to 2015 we had 50% foreign players in our national team and were moving up the global rankings. However, with careful consideration, we decided to take in local talent at an appropriate time to train and field local talent.
Apart from the above, we felt that the T20 format will have buy-in from the local talents since this format requires lesser hours of play compared to one day format or the other longer formats. MCA introduced T20 tournaments at the club & state level as well as the high performance tournaments to the best 80 in the country to get maximum domestic exposure and selecting the best available 14 players to represent the country.
We knew things would be difficult at the start but later on the boys will improve. Some of the players who started at that time had already played in the 2008 U19 World Cup or in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup between the years 2012 to 2017. We had a mixture of senior & junior players in the team in 2015-16 but we kept them together and we then decided to award them with a full- time contract in 2019. These players train on a regular basis.
In addition, we joined forces with local private and public institutes of higher learning and secured scholarship programmes for our players. To complement the education journey, we have the armed forces that are also employing cricketers. We have created a pathway for these players be it in education or employment and today, we see that these players are working really hard with a sense of loyalty in wanting to play their best and give back to their country.
As the association seeks to produce professional players, then the onus is on us to take care of their every need. The contracts given to them is to afford them to play cricket and not have to worry about leaving cricket to find another job. This way, they can play, continue their studies and can also work in the armed forces and come back to train full time. The Malaysian Cricket Association has also employed some of the players' development officers. Through these systems in place, we see remarkable improvements. We are also working towards giving International exposure by providing competitive matches that will see our players performing in the international arena.
Q 6) Malaysia recently awarded contracts to 15 national women cricketers, how big of an impact could it have in promoting the game among women and young girls? What are the major challenges you face while growing Cricket in Malaysia and how do you overcome them?
While it is a given that the ultimate goal for any sport is ‘the medal’, the focus of Malaysia Cricket is not merely on the medal. Malaysia Cricket looks beyond and deeper as embedded in its corporate vision “To be a Major Sport in Malaysia”, lies an innate passion to empower and inspire young minds at the grassroots level, through the sport of cricket and advertently, change lives. For the first time in twenty-two years, fifteen girls were admitted into Malaysia’s first sports School - The Bukit Jalil Sports School. We certainly consider this a milestone of Cricket in Malaysia.
To change the perception of cricket as a sport, we had to foremost ensure the ‘buy in’ from the Ministry of Education and that the MOE needed to understand that with this sport we can definitely change the children's lives as cricket is a team game. It took us almost ten years to gain their confidence. And we now work well with the ministries and schools.
At present, we are faced with the challenge of how to convince parents; since they believe it's hard to have a career in sports in a country like Malaysia, as cricket is not played as a professional sport. If together with a contract, comes placement for a job, then the parents will be more willing. Giving the contract to 25 men and 15 women actually changed the preconceived perception about cricket. Parents and teachers are now showing interest, people are following us and we are seeing a host of positive changes.
Q 7) As COO, what are the top three priorities that you would like to focus on? Where do you see Malaysian Cricket Association in the next 5 years?
My top three priorities would certainly be sponsorship & fan engagement, to see the national team play in the world cup and have a pool of trained coaches.
Malaysian Cricket Association has already developed school cricket, we have club cricket and we now have Government support. In terms of finances, it will always be very difficult to get a sponsorship, especially in the current scenario.
In 2018 we began our very own in - house production to live stream all matches which took off in 2019. Last year, 2020 FanCode from India bought the broadcasting rights for the T20i bi-lateral series between Malaysia and Hong Kong. This made us believe that we really have an opportunity of selling our events and thus started doing live streaming more seriously. Sponsorship is steadily streaming now.
To be a self-sustaining association, sponsorship is an important factor to promote the game. We cannot depend solely on grants and subsidies, hence, we need to bring in the sponsorship. In addition, we are in the midst of partnering with a technology company that will be a game changer for Malaysian Cricket fan engagement.
An equally important priority is the national team. We need to qualify for the World Cup for both men and women and also in the U19 levels. Apart from that, growing the game in Malaysia to realise our vision is just as important. This will require us to have good quality coaches at all levels and with this goal in mind, we are working with the International Cricket Council and the Asian Cricket Council to conduct several coaching courses here in Malaysia in order to get the local coaches to produce quality players.
The journey is continuous and we will keep going.
Indian Women’s team is a super side and I’m very confident they can win - Biju George, former Indian Women’s team fielding coach
Jonty Rhodes once said, “I got more bruises, grass burns and cuts in practice than in match play." Widely regarded as one of the best fielders to ever play the game, the former South African cricketer epitomized why fielding is such a valuable and underappreciated aspect of cricket. The qualities of what makes a good fielder is developed meticulously, and coaches play a big part in honing the skill. One such coach, Mr. Biju George has proven himself time and again at the highest level. A NIS and BCCI (level 3) certified coach, Biju George has coached the India Under 19 team, Kuwait national team, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and India Women’s fielding coach.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, we chat with Biju George who has worked with the Sports Authority of India as a cricket coach and is attached to LNCPE Thiruvananthapuram about all things cricket, fielding, grassroot development and more!
Q 1) We have always heard catches win matches, but the quality of fielding we see in IPL is far from what is desired, barring a few. Do you think team owners should keep this aspect in mind before picking a player in the auction?
Ans: When a player is picked for an auction, every aspect of the cricketer is taken into consideration. Before the Indian Premier League season starts, there will be a minimum of 15-20 days of camps where fielding is stressed upon and given much importance. With the recent lockdowns, there has been a significant drop in fielding standards and my belief is that when you are cooped up in the house and the maximum distance that you cover is the length of your room, unless you have access to a terrace or an open ground, your range of movement will be limited. When you go back to the ground and try to catch a ball which is moving at you from 75 yards, it’s a little difficult. The process takes time but it can easily be addressed.
Q 2) In a time and age when the focus is on quick runs, hard hitting shots and roles are quite defined, do you think fielding training takes a backseat? Do you find it challenging to train star batsmen and bowlers?
Ans: It is absolutely not challenging to train star batsmen and bowlers. Last season I was working with the Sunrisers Hyderabad as a fielding coach and there was so much stress on fielding. In a daily session, while the batsmen are in the nets, the others would be undergoing a fielding routine and there were days dedicated exclusively for fielding.
Q 3) How can aspiring cricketers in India be conditioned from an early age at the grassroot level to develop into world class fielders?
Ans: There are a couple of factors that influence the development of fielders. It depends on the quality of grounds that you practice on. If you’re practicing on grounds that are very abrasive and rough, you cannot practice sliding techniques or diving techniques due to fear of injury. If a player is practicing on lush grounds with proper techniques, anybody can become a very good fielder.
Q 4) According to you, who are the fittest fielders in the Sunrisers Hyderabad team? Can you share your most memorable catch or fielding effort?
Ans: Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson are one of the fittest and best fielders in the Sunrisers Hyderabad team. During the training sessions, everybody goes out and does their best so you can't pick a single catch from a particular session. If you talk about a match, Manish Pandey had taken a stunner after dropping a catch against Mumbai Indians at Sharjah Stadium. He had to run in from long off and dive flat towards his left. It was a low catch and the ball was travelling away so it was a stunner.
Q 5) India has appointed Mr. Ramesh Powar as the new coach replacing Mr. WV Raman. How different are the coaching styles of the two?
Ans: I have worked with Tushar Arothe sir, Ramesh Pawar sir and WV Raman sir and each of them have their own coaching style and their coaching philosophy are completely different and everybody is very good in their own rights. Ramesh Pawar can be more into planning and getting the small details right. WV Raman was someone who used to motivate the players, instilling in them a belief that they can compete with the best in the world. Each of them are different and each of them can bring their own brilliance to the table.
Q 6) Indian Women are set to play against England on June 16th, how optimistic are you of the side’s chances?
Ans: I'm very optimistic, especially in a day's match. We have got girls like Poonam Raut who can bat the whole day long, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodriguez, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur along with others. We have a super side and our bowling is also spot on so I'm very confident of their chances.
Q 7) What’s your goals and aspirations for the future? What would you like to say to the young and aspiring crickets?
Ans: I strongly believe that nothing is impossible. Keep yourself fit, keep developing yourself as a player. As a coach it’s important to increase your knowledge, as a player it’s important to increase your versatility. Everyday or every season, try to analyze yourself and try to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Make your strength into super strength and make sure you try to eradicate your weakness and today or tomorrow you'll definitely achieve your dreams.
Samuel Thevanayagam’s book 'The first Ten Runs in Singles' brings learnings from the cricket field for corporate leaders
Sir Don Bradman once famously said, "Reading poetry and watching cricket were the sum of my world, and the two are not so far apart as many aesthetes might believe" and we as cricket fans cannot agree more! The sport of Cricket, for its die hard fans is not just a game. It's an emotion, expression and most importantly an inspiration to them!
On a similar note, 'The first Ten Runs in Singles' a book written by Mr. Samuel Prakash Thevanayagam, a Sri Lankan-born American thought leader, entrepreneur and a big time Cricket enthusiast, is inspiring individuals to lead a successful life by providing valuable life lessons and strategies drawn by the game of cricket.
Featuring thirty chapters, the book, just like a life coach offers practical advice and solutions, inspired by cricket for its readers to imply in their daily lives in order to better themselves on their personal and professional fronts.
In an Exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mr. Thevanayagam, better known as Sam T talked about his book, his love for the sport and the important lessons one can draw from the game cricket.
Q 1) What inspired you to write ' The first Ten Runs in Singles'?
Ans: I grew up playing cricket and listening to my father’s advice. As I grew older, I realized that what my father was teaching me was also useful for life. That was the inspiration that led me to writing the book.
Q 2) What personal values or lessons can an individual draw from the game of cricket?
Ans: There are 30 chapters in the book, each one of them is associated with a value. As examples taking initiative, being patient, practicing discernment etc.
Q 3) Why did you choose only cricket and not any other sport for your book?
Ans: Cricket is my passion and the game that I played growing up. One can learn from all sports, especially team sports. Cricket involves a lot of collective strategy.
Q 4) How much do you think has Cricket evolved over the past two to three decades?
Ans: Cricket has changed for the viewing public to be able to get to a result in 4 hours in the T20 format. The game has also evolved to be more exciting, more action packed and quicker and faster which is more fun for the viewing public.
Q 5) What role did cricket play in shaping you as an individual?
Ans: Cricket has shaped me in the individual I am, the leader I am and the team mate I am. There are times I have to score fast or execute with urgency, other times I have to hold my end as there are things evolving that are beyond my control. I have had to adjust to life situations and play positions that I am not familiar with in life just like I have playing cricket. I have also won and lost in life due to my own efforts and other’s efforts.
Q 6) How important of a role do you think cricket or any other sport play in an individual's life?
Ans: As a CEO and leader I am involved in recruiting and hiring potential candidates to work in the 3 businesses I run. I am always looking for sportsmen and women as they are good team mates, know how to win and lose and understand various game situations. I have been fortunate to recruit some tremendous talent by recruiting among athletes. Sportsmen and women also know to play hard, finish strong, learn how to take direction and make changes as situations ebb and flow in a work or life situation. This is all I have learned being a cricketer myself and being a fan.
Q 7) Would you like to share any of your favourite lines or quotes from the book with our readers to inspire them in these testing times?
Ans: Without trust, you have nothing. It is the foundation that all relationships are built on. Even love cannot thrive without trust.
Female Cricket is inspiring, empowering and celebrating women’s achievements in the sport
Sport belongs to all, it’s a powerful tool that can empower and change the lives of individuals. In India, cricket is not just a sport but also a religion which has conventionally been dominated by men. Female Cricket aims to change that dynamic by inspiring and empowering female cricketers around the world, having connected 500,000+ female enthusiasts and training over 250+ girls in the last three years.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Vishal Yadav, Founder and CEO of Female Cricket speaks about the inspiration, aim and mission behind Female Cricket, equal pay for men and women, challenges faced, IPL for women and notable achievements.
What inspired you to create Female Cricket? What is its aim and mission?
I am a huge cricket fan and I always aspired to be a cricketer myself but I didn’t get enough opportunities to play professional cricket. By the time I came to know about the pathway to a professional setup, it was too late. Since I was so passionate about the game, I started reading and researching more about it and finding ways to be connected with this sport. I happened to speak to a lot of cricketers outside of India and got to know about their stories and their love for the sport. It was during one of these conversations that I realized the huge gap between men’s and women’s cricket. It was also surprising to know that women’s cricket had existed since the last 3-4 decades, but there was hardly any coverage on both online and offline media. I knew I had to do something about it. That led to the idea of building an exclusive platform that would promote women’s cricket 24x7, 365 days and femalecricket.com took its shape.
India has such talented female players and have performed quite well at the world stage. Why does men’s cricket still dominate in india?
Well not anymore. That was the case some 5-6 years ago. A lot has happened in favor of women’s cricket, particularly in India since 2016. The teams are contracted now, the domestic tournaments offer a decent pay to the girls, matches are televised, the travel and stays have got better, the practice facilities have improved, the appetite for women’s cricket has increased, people acknowledge their efforts now and celebrate their victories. We have very closely seen this transition happening.
Having said that, there’s still a huge scope of improvement across all departments. Men’s cricket is seen to dominate in our country because of the obvious reason - they get to play more, prove more. That is exactly what is currently lacking in the women’s cricket ecosystem. I am very confident that once there are regular fixtures for the girls, their performance at the international level will get better and more people will take notice of the same. It is just a matter of time.
What are your views on equal pay for women cricketers? In 2019, Cricket Australia revised the salary structure to ensure equal pay for men and women in the T20 World Cup. Should the BCCI also adopt the same route?
Absolutely. That’s a constant demand we hear from fans, not just in India but around the globe. Both the men’s side and women’s side represent the country and put in equal efforts to bring laurels to their side - so why pay them differently. The goal for both the teams are the same, the expectations from the fans for both the teams are the same, so why the pay disparity?
We also need to acknowledge the fact that things are getting better with time and BCCI has done exceptionally well to ensure the girls both at the national and domestic level are remunerated for their efforts. From not having contracts in 2015 to now having 22 Contracts for the girls is one of the positives and it must be applauded. The girls deserve more and I see that happening in the near future.
Do you see challenges in terms of infrastructure and sponsorship to develop women’s cricket in India?
Yes. These are 2 key areas where we are currently lacking and I see a huge scope of improvement. At the local and grassroot level, there is a strong need for quality infrastructure. That’s where we have maximum participation. And that’s exactly where we see maximum dropouts. Sponsorship is another area that needs attention of well-wishers, corporates and institutions. If these 2 things are aligned, we would see 2X increase in female participation in the country.
To mitigate some of these challenges, we started ‘Female Cricket Academy,’ an exclusive platform that trains young girls in cricket. We are currently located only in Mumbai, but we want to reach far corners of the country and empower more young girls to take up cricket in India. We realize the potential these girls have, specially in the rural parts of the country.
In your view what are the challenges faced by Female Cricketers in India? What can be done to overcome them?
The challenges are manifold. The primary challenge is still the lack of awareness, which eventually leads to lack of participation. Social media has definitely played a key role in creating the buzz, but there’s still a wide area to cover, especially the Tier-2 and Tier-3 parts of the country, who are far from the reach of social media. The traditional mindset that girls shouldn't be allowed to go out and play with the boys still persists. The other major hurdle is the lack of resources and infrastructure at the grassroots level. The girls don’t know where to go and learn cricket, they are unaware of the pathways, there’s hardly any remuneration / pay for these girls at that level. There’s no guarantee of jobs and no assurity of livelihood unless you make it to the state side at least.
All of the above problems need to be addressed individually and at once. We, at Female Cricket have identified these challenges over a course of 5-6 years and understand that there’s no magic wand to turn things around overnight. We collectively need to work in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the system. The Board, the state government, private institutions, corporates need to come forward, devise a plan, pool the required funds and implement it.
Recently women teams were introduced in the IPL on a trial basis. Do you think the BCCI will make the women's IPL a regular affair?
They will for sure. Had it not been for COVID-19 crisis, we would have seen a mini version of Women’s IPL by now, comprising 4-6 teams. BCCI is doing their best to ensure that the girls get enough game time, keeping the safety of the players and officials in mind. With the way things are due to the unfortunate Covid situation and considering the logistical challenges, it is hard to predict when we would have a full-fledged IPL, but I do see it happening in the next 1-2 years.
The 2020 edition of Women’s T20 Challenge recorded a 147% rise in viewer minutes. Do you expect this to only increase in the next editions?
Without an iota of doubt. Women’s Cricket has evolved over the years, the matches have become very competitive, nail-biters, the skills have gone up, the love and acceptance for women’s cricket has increased with matches now being televised, the girls are now seen as a role-model to thousands of young aspirants - it’s an upward trend for women’s cricket and it shall further grow in the coming years.
What are the notable achievements of Female Cricket so far?
We started in February 2016 and have come a long way since then. We are a self-funded entity and have been bootstrapped since day one. Having been in this domain since the last 5 years, we have very closely seen the challenges that surround women’s cricket. Today, we are a community of over 1 Million people connected with us across social and digital channels. I never thought we would ever be able to attract an audience base of this size. At Female Cricket Academy, we have trained over 250+ girls in the last 3 years. We have featured on several notable publications including the renowned names like ESPN Cricinfo and SportsKeeda. However, we feel that our biggest achievement is the community that we have built at Female Cricket - it is all organic, it understands women’s cricket and celebrates every bit of it. We have received several messages from girls who got inspired to take up cricket after following our content and regular updates on social media. That was our objective when we began Female Cricket in 2016. It feels great to see that our objectives are being met and we plan to continue doing what we do - inspire and empower more girls with cricket.
What are your goals for Female Cricket in the future? How do you hope to accomplish them?
The goal is to address and mitigate all of the above mentioned hurdles and challenges. Women’s cricket deserves all the love and recognition and we will ensure it happens 24x7, 365 days. One of our missions is to encourage and inspire 1 Million Girls to take up cricket in India in the next 5 years. Besides, we want to set up more centres of Female Cricket Academy and provide a better platform for young girls and help them pursue their cricket dreams.
IPL Match 27: Pollard powers MI to a thrilling 4 wicket win over CSK
The El Clasico of the Indian Premier League panned out as thrilling and exciting as the fans had expected as Kieron Pollard delivered a power packed all round performance to hand Mumbai Indians a memorable win over arch rivals Chennai Super Kings at the Arun Jaitley stadium on Saturday.
The high voltage clash between the two heavyweights went down till the last ball to determine the winner and featured some high voltage drama and thrilling action. Chasing CSK's gigantic 218/4, MI were off to a flying start with skipper Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Knock amassing 71 runs for the opening wicket. Sharma scored 35 off 24 before perishing in the 8th over. The proceedings got a bit shaky for the defending champions as they soon lost Surya Kumar Yadav (3 off 3) and their set batter de Kock (38 off 28) in quick succession. Krunal Pandya looked in great touch with his 23 ball 32 but couldn't spend more time on the pitch as Sam Curran sent him packing in the 17th over. MI then pinned their hopes on the shoulders of their stalwart Pollard who in turn rose to the occasion with his powerful hitting and scored an unbeaten 87 off 34 balls dazzling it with 6 fours and 8 sixes.
Earlier, Rohit had won the toss and asked CSK to bat first. Trent Boult gave the boys in blue a perfect start with his brilliant first over that also featured the wicket of CSK's in-form opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Moeen Ali then joined forces with du Plessis on the brilliant Delhi wicket to deliver a scintillating partnership that laid the foundation of a big first innings total for CSK. Ali scored a 36 ball 58 while faf smashed 50 runs off 28 deliveries. Coming at no. 5, Amabti Rayudu also joined the party and took the MI blowers to cleaners. Rayudu slammed an unbeaten 72 off just 27 with a jaw dropping strike rate of 266, blasting 4 fours and 7 sixes. Rayudu guided CSK to a giant 218/4 but his heroics went in vain as Pollard delivered his best batting performance till date to steal a last ball victory for his franchise as the five time champions finished their chase on 219/6.
IPL Match 28: Buttler's ton helps RR hammer SRH by 55 runs
Change of captain could not change the fortunes for Sunrisers Hyderabad as Rajasthan Royals rattled the orange army by 55 runs, riding on Jos Buttler's match winning ton at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Sunday.
Chasing a giant target of 221, SRH were off to solid start as their openers kept their feet glued to the crease in the power play with both Jonny Bairstow (30 off 21) and Manish Pandey (31 off 20) sharing a 57 run partnership among them. However, Pandey perished to Mustafizur Rahman at the start of 7th over, scoring 31 off 20 balls.
The Sunrisers now pinned their hopes on the newly-appointed skipper Kane Wiliamson. The Kiwi made a cautious start in an attempt to keep things under control but ended up giving into the pressure of keeping up with the run-rate. Williamson scored 20 off 21 before Kartik Tyagi sent him packing. The Sunrisers kept losing wickets at regular intervals and endured a middle order batting collapse as none of their batters could even stage a fight back in the massive run chase. For the Royals, Chris Morris and Mustafizur Rahman displayed impressive shows with the ball, clinching three wickets each with good economy.
Earlier, having asked to bat first, the Royals endured an early setback in the form of Yashasvi Jaiswal in the third over as Rashid Khan dismissed him. Captain Sanju Samson then joined forces with Jos Buttler and the duo took RR's score to 42/1 by the conclusion of the sixth over.
Buttler and Samson continued their onslaught on the SRH bowlers and the Royals opener Buttler notched up his fifty in the 13th over. The duo continued to frustrate the formidable Hyderabad bowling attack as they had no answers to their terrific batting.
The 150-run second wicket partnership finally came to an end when Vijay Shankar dismissed Samson (48) in the 17th over. In the same over, Buttler brought up his match defining century off just 56 balls.
In the last three overs, the trio of Riyan Parag (15*), Buttler (124), and David Miller (7*) contributed additional 48 runs that helped the Royals Rajasthan register a mammoth total of 220/3. Sandeep Sharma put an end to Buttler's first ever IPL centurion knock in the 19th over.
IPL Match 29: Dhawan & Rabada star as DC thrash PBKS by 7 wickets
Delhi Capitals moved on top of the table after defeating Punjab Kings by 7 wickets as Shikhar Dhawan and Kasigo Rabada's heroics outshone Mayank Agarwal's brilliant knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday.
Chasing PBKS' 166/6, the in-form openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan yet again fired the DC scoreboard with their promising starts as the duo shared an exhilarating 63 run partnership for the first wicket in the power play. Shaw scored 39 runs off 22 balls, lacing it with 3 fours and 3 maximums before falling prey to PBKS rising star Harpreet Brar. To ensure DC finishes ahead of a struggling PBKS, Dhawan, once again played the anchoring role in chase at the start and accelerated later, after the dismissal of Shaw and Steve Smith. Dhawan notched up another fine innings with his unbeaten 69 of 47 that helped DC continue their dominating run at the tournament and cruise to an easy 7 wicket win over PBKS.
Earlier, DC skipper Rishabh Pant had asked PBKS to bat first. PBKS were without their in-form captain KL Rahul who was ruled out after being diagnosed with appendicitis. Nevertheless, stand-in skipper Mayank Agarwal led from the front and powered the Kings to a decent total. Agarwal slammed an unbeaten 99 runs of 58 balls to lift the struggling PBKS' spirits and guided them to a fighting 166/6.
DC bowlers displayed a disciplined bowling performance to keep PBKS' scoring at check. Capitals bowling attack, spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada took early wickets and kept things tight for the strong PBKS batting line up during the Powerplay. After perishing Prabhsimran Singh (12 runs off 16 balls) cheaply in the 4th over, Rabada got the better of Chris Gayle as the Caribbean powerhouse fell after scoring just 13 off 9. The Protea pacer then claimed his third and final wicket in the form of Chris Jordan in the 19th over. Rabada finished his impressive four over spell with the figures of 3/36 while Axar Patel and Avesh Khan took a wicket each.
IPL Match 26: Harpreet's heroics & Rahul's KLass guide PBKS to a 34 run win over RCB
The Punjab Kings notched up a clinical all round performance to beat the season favourites Royal Challengers Bangalore by 34 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 180, RCB got off to a disappointing start as they lost Devdutt Padikkal cheaply in the third over. Virat was then joined by Rajat Patidar as the duo tried to build the chase for RCB with their steady innings. The RCB skipper despite staying at the crease for over 10 overs failed to convert his start into a match defining knock as he fell prey to debutant and the star of the night Harpreet Brar, scoring just 35 off 34.
It was a dream debut for the youngster as the left arm orthodox spinner further went on to wreck RCB's chances in the game getting rid of the in form Glenn Maxwell for a duck and later the South African great AB de Villiers to keep PBKS in the driver's seat.
The Virat led side fell from 62-1 to 92-7 before Harshal Patel and Kyle Jamieson's cameos narrowed the victory margin for the Kings. Besides Brar, other PBKS bowlers too put up impressive shows as Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan and Mohammed Shami restricted RCB to 145/8 in 20 overs to seal the game with two points.
Earlier, Virat had won the toss and asked PBKS to bat first. The Kings started the proceedings with a new opening pair as KL Rahul walked in with Prabhsimran Singh after Mayank Agarwal had to miss out due to an injury. Singh failed to make his mark scoring just a run a ball, however, the PBKS still had a reason to rejoice as their power house Chris Gayle finally got his mojo back. The explosive batsman hit Kyle Jamieson for 5 fours in an over and went on to score a crucial 46 off 24.
After Gayle's departure, Rahul continued to build the PBKS' innings from one end. However, three consecutive wickets of Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan shifted the momentum on RCB's side.
Rahul, with his brilliant 91 runs off 57 balls yet again led from the front, staying in the middle till the very end and with decent support from Brar's unbeaten 25 off 17 balls took PBKS to a highly competitive score of 179-5 in 20 overs.
IPL Match 24: de Kock guides MI to a comfortable 7 wickets win over RR
Mumbai Indians got back to winning ways thanks to Quinton de Kock's brilliance with the bat that guided them to a comfortable 7 wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 172, Sharma and de Kock gave MI an impressive start by amassing 49-runs for the opening partnership. While the MI skipper perished after scoring 14 off 17 balls, de Kock continued to torment the RR bowlers to hit his first half century this season that kept MI in the dominating position throughout the chase.
After Suryakumar Yadav's cheap dismissal, the South African batter was joined by Krunal Pandya. The Protea hit the RR bowlers all over the fence to smash a scintillating 70 off 50 balls to ensure MI thrashed the Royals comfortably.
With de Kock's match winning unbeaten 70-run inning, the Rohit led side breached the 172-run target in 18.3 overs and rattled the Royals by 7 wickets.
Earlier, MI captain Rohit Sharma had won the toss and invited the Sanju Samson led side to bat first. Royals were off to a great start with their openers Yashasvi Jaiswal (32 off 20) and Jos Buttler (41 off 32) smashing the MI bowlers all over the park in the power play.
MI's spinner Rahul Chahar dimmised the well set Buttler in the 8th over. Soon Jaiswal also fell prey to the same man in the 10th over. RR skipper Samson looked in fine tune as he smashed an impressive 42 off 27 balls before falling in the death overs.
Shivam Dube's cameo (35 off 31) and David Miller's boundary off the final delivery powered the Royals to a competitive total of 171/4 in 20 overs.
With this result, MI moved to the 4th spot on the IPL points table with three wins in their title defence campaign.