Interview: “I rejected Kabaddi and football to start cricket”: Sarla Devi

Growing up with two sisters, who play Kabaddi nationally, she chose a rather impassable path because she decided to make her career in cricket. From playing at the base to hanging out with some of the best in the business, this pride of Jammu & Kashmir has really come a long way.

In an exclusive interview with Female Cricket, prolific versatile Jammu & Kashmir player Sarla Devi, who will perform in the upcoming Challenger Trophy, talks about her early days in cricket, the spiritual connection that prompted her to play cricket and more.

Women’s cricket interviews Sarla Devi


Tell us something about your early days in cricket.

I started playing cricket from a young age in my colony with my relatives. Back then, I played just for fun and I didn’t know about women’s cricket and whether there are teams that play cricket on a professional level. In 2008, when I visited the ashram with my family, which we usually do, Satguru Madhu Paramhans Sahib Ji he saw me playing cricket. Guruji told my parents that I should be serious about cricket and that I have the potential to become great in sports. After I got home, my parents decided to enroll me in a cricket academy. My sisters, who are kabadija players nationally, had friends who played cricket. They told my sisters about the field where I could go to training. I started my practice under the guidance of Mrs. Veena Sharma. She was my first coach and played a key role in shaping me as a cricketer. I am currently being coached by Vijay Dogra Cheese at Shubham Khajuria Cricket Academy in Jammu.

Sarla Devi with her coach
Sarla Devi with her coach

How was your family’s support?

My parents and my two older sisters were always by my side. Since my sisters played kabaddi nationally, there was always a sports environment at home. My parents understood the need for sports and supported me just like my sisters.

Since you grew up with sisters who played kabaddi, what made you choose cricket?

I have always loved sports and watching my sisters play and travel to tournaments, I was inclined to do sports as well. I loved cricket and football more than kabadi. Between cricket and football, I chose cricket because I watched it a lot on television and played with my cousins ​​in the colony. Also, the fact that the gurus advised my parents to encourage me to play cricket made me opt for this sport.

Sarla Devi in ​​bowling action.  PC: Women's cricket
Sarla Devi in ​​bowling action. PC: Women’s cricket

Who were your role models?

I enjoyed watching the bat of Sachin Tendulkar, the field of Suresh Rain and Captain MS Dhoni from the side.

When did you break into the national Jammu & Kashmir team?

It was 2010 when I played my first U-19 for Jammu & Kashmir. I played U-19 for four seasons, then U-23 for a few years, and at the same time I was selected to the senior national team.

A few years ago you ran Jammu & Kashmir. Can you shed some light on what it takes to be a good captain?

The captain should be the one to set the example and lead the team with him. Maintaining unity and camaraderie on the team is essential to success. In addition, the captain should know the potential of each player and should be able to assess the horses for the tracks.

Sarla Devi.  PC: Women's cricket
Sarla Devi. PC: Women’s cricket

At the recently concluded one-day senior tournament, you picked up 12 gates and scored 110 runs. Are you satisfied with your performance?

I’m happy with my performance, but I feel I could have done a lot better. I definitely feel I can contribute more with both the bat and the ball.

With your good performance in the one-day senior tournament, you were selected for the Challenger Trophy. How excited are you to play this mega competition?

I am looking forward to playing in this tournament which will be attended by many Indian players. It will be a great experience not only on and off the field. I am sure I will be able to learn a lot from experienced players. Throwing against and bowling some of the best cricketers in the country will be challenging, but I look forward to that challenge.

Sarla Devi about her bowling action.  PC: Women's cricket
Sarla Devi about her bowling action. PC: Women’s cricket

How did women’s cricket develop in Jammu and Kashmir?

Over the years, cricket has developed well in Jammu and Kashmir. More and more girls are playing sports. We have a lot of games at the club and district level. The Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) has played a key role in the growth of women’s cricket. Organizing training camps and training matches benefited the girls. This year we qualified for the first time and the credit goes to JKCA for supporting us. In addition to the JKCA matches, last year we had other matches played under the auspices of the RWCC (Royal Women Cricket Club), at the initiative of Dr. Roopali Slathia, a player who became a coach.

Sarla Devi.  PC: Women's cricket
Sarla Devi. PC: Women’s cricket

What message would you like to send to young girls who are just starting to play cricket?

Every girl who wants to play cricket should have the urge to play at the highest level. You should learn well, either from a coach or a teammate. Giving your 100% on the field is key.

I am a former cricketer who represented the University of Mumbai at the University of India level. I was part of the MCA probabilities for the U-19 and U-23 age groups. For the last five years I have been a passionate cricket writer. I am currently pursuing a PhD at IIT Bombay.

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