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In this interview, Cricket player and Coach, Lakshmi Hariharan shares her thoughts on her sporting journey as well as women’s cricket.
Lakshmi Hariharan is a 39-year-old Cricket Coach who lives in Bangalore. She loves to read books and watch old Test matches on television. She finds playing Badminton and Table Tennis invigorating and she makes it a habit to keep up with the latest news. She eagerly watches all kinds of sports in her free time. Here’s what she has to say about her unique experience playing national level cricket and being a cricket coach.
Yes. I started playing sports at the age of eight. I played different sports, but cricket has always been my favourite. I was drawn to this game, and I continue to play it with the same fervour till date. However, badminton was the first sport that I played at a professional level at the age of 13.
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I was a professional cricketer prior to becoming a coach.I have represented Kerala, and then Karnataka at the national, zonal and state level. These tournaments gave me an opportunity to get noticed for national selections. These games provided me a very good platform and base.
I also represented Singapore in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy. This tournament is held every two years to provide the ‘affiliate’ countries a chance to prove themselves. This also gave me an opportunity to go up the ladder in terms of the game. Subsequently, I got an opportunity to play with better teams.
I didn’t intend to become a coach, but I always felt that I needed to give back something to cricket. I had never thought that I would be a coach one day.
I lived in Singapore for a while, and I used to play cricket with the men there. One day, the head coach approached me and asked if I could be his assistant. Apparently, the Under-19 girls’ team was to play a competitive tournament. They were looking for someone who understood women’s cricket and was able to teach the vital aspects of the game to the girls. I agreed to his request, and that’s how my coaching experience started.
In a team sports like women’s cricket, I, as a coach play several roles. I not only teach them the skills and aspects of the game, but I’m also their mentor and friend. I empathise with the players, and understand the needs of each player. It is my duty to understand what a player can do better, bowl or bat and help them develop their individual skills. I try to assist them in any way possible. I provide them physical training, and I am also their buffer since I ensure that they overcome their fears.
In a team sport, the most exciting part is when you do your best and contribute to the team’s success or progress.
I believe that each of us have our respective places under the sun. No one can take away that place from us. Likewise, women’s sport too has its own place. Hence, I have never felt a pressure or a challenge or even a need to make my presence felt in the field of women’s cricket. For me, men’s sport and women’s sport are two different entities. As long as we are clear about what we want to achieve, it should not matter what gender you are and what sport you play.
Coaching gives you the opportunity to give back something that the sport has given you. Your success and failure are measured then and there. One doesn’t need to wait for another person to appraise you on your job. When you see a player that you have coached, learn a new skill and that player is happy about that small achievement, it gives me immense satisfaction. I’m coaching both boys and girls, at the moment. It is a very delectable experience coaching both genders, and yes, my coaching is restricted to only cricket.
There are many aspects that would do well with a change. However, in terms of women’s cricket, the main thing that I would like to see changed is the way we perceive women’s cricket. Though both men and the women play the same game, they need to be treated as separate entities. It is in this, that we can make a lot of difference to the sport. We cannot compare men’s cricket and women’s cricket.
Many people do not view women’s cricket and aren’t aware of how unique women’s style of batting and bowling can be. I encourage people to watch more of women’s cricket.
I have been lucky so far to garner nothing but respect, wherever I went as a sportsperson. I am identified first as a sportsperson even at my workplace. Even in the public, I have always been respected when people see me walking around in a tracksuit. Hence, I believe that it is up to each one of us as to how we portray ourselves in the eyes of the people around you.
It is very hard for me to identify a single biggest achievement since I have been associated with cricket for more than 20 years now. Some of the achievements would be: winning the Under-19 south zone trophy for Karnataka, getting selected for the India Under-19 camp, and representing the Singapore team, etc.
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