When D. Hemalatha went for her first selection trials for the Tamil Nadu women’s cricket team, some 10 years ago, only 60-odd players had turned up.
“This time around there were about 450 players and that number could become much larger in the coming years, because of the Women’s Premier League,” Hemalatha, who will play for Gujarat Giants in the tournament beginning on March 4, said at an online interaction on Friday.
She said women’s cricket in India made a lot of progress from the time the girls like her asked to be careful while playing because of the possibilities of getting hurt. “Now coaches say getting hurt is okay,” she said. “Women’s cricket has indeed changed a lot in India over the last few years.”
Hemalatha, the batting all-rounder who has played nine ODIs and 15 T20Is but wasn’t able to make it to the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in South Africa, believes the WPL will provide a big platform for players like her.
She is delighted that she has joined Gujarat Giants, which boasts overseas stars like Ashleigh Gardner, Beth Mooney, Deandra Dottin and Sophia Dunkley. “I have played against them,” she said. “We have a good set of all-rounders in our time.”
She said all the five WPL sides were strong. Was there any side she would personally want Gujarat Giants to beat? “Royal Challengers Bangalore,” she said. “They have (fine players like) Megan Schutt.”
Looking back at her journey, she said she had begun late. “I didn’t know that women’s cricket existed till I began playing,” she said. “I was 18 when I began playing cricket – purely as a fielder.”
She may have begun late, but she has come a long way. So long that Gujarat Giants was willing to pay Rs .30 lakh for her services.
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