Sindhu aims to create the right environment to advance US cricket – The New Indian Express – Advice Eating

Express Message Service

CHENNAI: When Sindhu Sriharsha, then known as Sindhu Ashok, made her India U-21 debut in Pakistan in 2005 as a 17-year-old and faced Sana Mir – who also made her debut in the same series – little did she know that she was 17 Years later she would play again at FairBreak International – an ICC-sanctioned private T20 tournament held in Dubai and attended by women cricketers from 34 countries.

As Mir continued to play for Pakistan and captained several T20 World Championships before retiring, Sindhu’s life and career took a completely different direction before coming full circle on the field, with Mir captaining the South Coast Sapphires and Sindhu as Leader of the Warriors.

Cricket has been the Karnataka wicketkeeper-batter’s life since she was 9 years old. After being part of India A and Board President’s XI squads for almost a decade, Sindhu decided to retire from the game at the age of 23 when she was not selected for an NCA camp in 2011.

“I thought I had played cricket for too many years, maybe my whole childhood from the age of 10 to 23, when I decided to move on. I needed a break so I decided to step out of the setup to see where I can see myself or who I am as a person,” Sindhu said daily.

She got a job at a multinational company, got married and moved to the United States. As she built her family outside of sport with her husband Sriharsha MS, cricket found its way back into her life. Although USA Cricket was suspended by the ICC at this point, she had the opportunity to rekindle her childhood love.

Sindhu got a chance to play club cricket and when USA returned to international cricket in 2017 she was an integral part of the team. Soon after, she became captain in 2019 and has led the team ever since.

“It was a great second inning. I should say that not everyone gets a second chance at the passion they’ve always believed in since they were like a 10-year-old kid. It has definitely been a privileged trip so far. I cannot be grateful enough to everyone who has played a role in my life to be able to do this today. From my mum to my husband to all my coaches it was just brilliant.”

However, as cricket has yet to be professionalized in the US, not just in Sindhu, all players either have a full-time job or attend college or school, apart from playing for the country. Sindhu herself worked as a product manager at a private company, gave birth to her son before returning to cricket a few months later in 2019.

“Yes it’s a bit of a work for us to juggle all of this and I have a brilliant support system with my husband who has been supportive throughout my pregnancy and even afterwards. My mother also played a big role and she actually stayed with us for a year right after I got pregnant to take care of my son. He was probably 12 weeks old when I started training and I’ve been traveling and playing cricket ever since. I was able to do it because I have this system in place. Otherwise I couldn’t play at all. It’s hard to say that I’m the one doing all this, it’s not just me. It’s my husband, my mother and any coaches who could make time when I was available to practice something. All my teammates juggling their timing just so I can come and play with them based on my schedule. It takes them all to make it happen.”

Currently, Sindhu is leading the Warriors in FairBreak International – the only associated nations captain in the tournament – and is excited for the opportunity to work with some of the global superstars like Mir, Mignon du Preez, Heather Knight, Hayley Matthews etc.

“I never dreamed of the opportunity that was given to me. I’m definitely grateful and I think Shaun (Martyn, Founder of FairBreakGlobal) saw something special in me in Australia (at FairBreak 2019) to give me the opportunity to lead the team. Every moment of this tournament was a learning experience for all of us. Competing against Heather Knight naturally, going into the draw with a world champion captain is almost like a dream come true that we never could have dreamed of. I’m sure we opened up dreams to the other associated nations by letting them know that it’s not just about the ICC tournaments. This is another opportunity to look forward to. And so I have to say that Fairbreak has done a fantastic job in giving us this opportunity for all these Associate Members.”

Sindhu led USA in both the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifier and the 2021 ODI World Cup qualifier. While they fell short at the former and were new to the 50-over format at the latter, they have grown by leaps and bounds as a setup since returning to international cricket. They have more T20 World Cup qualifiers this year and the USA skipper believes it’s a format that suits them better and they’re better prepared than they were in 2019.

“We are definitely looking forward to the T20 qualification. We give ourselves a little more chances than we did at the 2019 event in Scotland considering we have a much younger team. We have 10 or 12 of them under 20, which gives us that extra energy, something we probably didn’t have in 2019. All are fearless, highly motivated and very ambitious which makes our job as a leadership group easier to lead the group. So we’re definitely looking forward to 2022 global qualifiers.

At 34, her role on the US team has changed a lot since she took office. Now she trusts the process more than the results. She wants to work with the younger players in the system, give them a platform to express themselves and advance US cricket.

“Some of the kids when I say kids are the teammates who are younger, some of them I’ve seen since they were 9 or 10 years old. I actually trained them. To be able to make it onto the team and play is a great achievement in itself. I take great pride in mentoring and coaching these children. My goal over the next few years would be to provide them with opportunities and an environment where they are safe enough to be fearless cricketers, to go out and be themselves and to appreciate the opportunity and be grateful for what we are are trying to give them.”

“I’m not a person who tries to bring in a lot of personal goals or accomplishments. It’s more for the team, if the team is able to reach their potential then my job is done. I don’t want to score a goal that says ‘I want to play in the World Cup, we have to qualify for the World Cup’. Belief in the process is important. If we are able to go outside and reach our potential, we will get the results we want. My goal would definitely be to give them the opportunity and environment and see what we can do with our potential.”

The interview was moderated by Eurosport, the official broadcaster of FairBreak International in India.

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