Bouncers, Yorkers, and Wickets—Sitting Down with Mansi Joshi
In the last decade, women’s cricket has grown leaps and bounds, capturing the attention of the masses and the sporting world. In India and abroad, women are being encouraged to participate in cricket because of the advancements in the game and infrastructure. The Indian women’s cricket team has seen its fan following grow rapidly in the past few years as they toured around the world bringing silverware for the nation. The six-time Asia Cup champions and two time World Cup runners up have risen against all the odds to make our country proud. One such cricketer is Mansi Joshi—a 26-year-old Indian fast bowler from Dehradun who represented India in the 2017 Cricket World cup. Felicitated by the Hindustan Times in the HT Youth Forum for their flagship event featuring Top 30 under 30, Mansi Joshi has achieved a lot in the cricketing world both for her domestic team, Haryana and the Indian national team. The MIT Post got a chance to interview Mansi Joshi during a Conclave Live session on Zoom.
In the past few years with the advancements leaning towards making the game more batsmen oriented, how does a bowler make sure that they’re not intimidated by the batsmen? What kind of mind games goes on there?
As a player, mind games are essential in any sport. Being a bowler, I have to notice the stance of the batsman, her shot selection, and various other minute details. If her front foot is a strong point, I have to bowl in a way which makes those shots challenging to hit and the same if she is playing well on backfoot. We practice these strategies in the nets with various other players, and this helps us a lot in the game.
How was it to represent our nation in the WC, and how did you and your team lift your spirits up after the narrow loss?
After the loss in the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England, we went to the dressing room and sat there for more than two to three hours. There was a foreboding atmosphere surrounding the dressing room, and we were grief-stricken because we couldn’t capitalise on some of the chances which would have led to a victory. But, when we did come out of the dressing room, we were surprised to see that there was a large crowd gathered at our hotel waiting for the Indian team. At that point, we realised that we might have lost the match, but we did achieve a lot of things during the tournament. The entire landscape of women’s cricket in India changed after this World Cup match. After 2017, women’s cricket gained a lot of followers, and it served as an inspiration to countless people to take up this sport. So in retrospect, I feel very proud and will always continue to feel proud to be a part of the team which brought wonders to women’s cricket in India.
What are your opinions on the Indian infrastructure for women’s cricket at the grassroots level?
Before 2017, there were a number of problems for women’s cricket. Coaching centres, academies for girls were difficult to come by in the early stages, unlike men’s cricket. But as I said earlier, after the 2017 World Cup, the scenario changed. For example, when I was in Dehradun, I used to be the only women cricketer there with maybe one other person. After the finals, my coach got a lot of calls asking for recruitment, and other academies in Dehradun also planned on opening cricket centres for women. So the situation has changed, even parents are more than willing to let their daughters play cricket because of the widespread fame.
Was it difficult for you to get into sports as a profession? Was your family supportive of the decision?
Touchwood, my family supported me a lot and never really took an issue to me playing any outdoor sport. I used to stay outside and play cricket with other boys, but my parents never really scolded me. Instead, they supported me a lot, and that’s the reason they are my strength. They have helped me a lot from the beginning, and I hope that every guardian and parent do this for their kids. Parents should always support and back their kids to complete their goals and help them succeed in life, as my parents did.
How does an athlete keep themselves mentally and physically fit in this period of lockdown? Especially considering that cricket is a sport with major importance to teamwork, how does one handle solitude?
When the lockdown was announced, at first, it was challenging to cope with it. It was mainly because we never stayed in our houses for that long. We were always practising at the nets or working out in the gym or training with other players. So yes, it was tough to be locked in the house all of a sudden, and it did cause some physical and mental stress to me and everyone else. The reason for the lockdown was sound, and it was to protect our family and us. Fortunately, it has started becoming better now. Our Indian coach keeps sending us schedules of training programs and other sessions. I have also started meditating and working out at home with the equipment in hand to keep myself fit and healthy.
What’s coming next for the Indian Women’s Cricket Team? When do we see you in action again?
As of now, we have no information on women’s cricket matches. Overseas, men’s cricket has already started, and in India, IPL will start too, probably in UAE. Hopefully, domestic cricket and training camps for us will begin by October or November, so that we can get back to action.
Note: The interview has been directly translated from Hindi
(Featured Image Credits: IPTC)