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.

01 My goal is to make Malaysian cricket stronger and better - Winifred Duraisingam, captain of Malaysian Women’s Cricket team

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.


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