Smriti Mandhana is one of the world’s leading cricketers and has been dominating on the world stage since making her debut for India at the age of 17 in 2014. Now 24, the former ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year is hungrier than ever to win the World Cup for India.
Mandhana spoke about her ambitions and inspiring the next generation of cricketers.
What are you most excited by heading into the 2021 Campus Cricket experience?
I am most excited that Red Bull Campus Cricket will be conducting a women’s edition next year. It will be a great platform for Indian women who want to play cricket professionally. Many top players have gone on to play for their state teams and national teams after playing Red Bull Campus Cricket so I’m excited that a women’s edition will be a great boost for women’s cricket in India.
Do you enjoy being an inspiration and role model to millions of young cricketers? Or is the pressure a burden?
More than a pressure or burden, I feel it is a responsibility if you are a role model. But I don’t really think about that too much. I just try to be the person I am and just be careful that I don’t do something wrong that might set a bad example for someone to follow. So other than that I don’t really look at it as a pressure or burden. I think it is good if some young girls will pick up a bat or ball while watching me or the women’s team play. That’s a very good feeling for a player.
What challenges did you experience growing up being a female cricketer? Did you have hurdles put in front of you and people telling you you couldn’t do it?
While growing up, I think I was a very fortunate person. My mum and dad wanted me to be a cricketer and wanted me to play for India. More than I wanted it, they wanted me to represent India. So that way I didn’t have to convince them to allow me to play cricket. Other than that, I think even where I went to practice, all the coaches and other players treated me almost equally, and I probably got some extra bowling and batting practice because I was the only young girl in the whole academy. So, I think that way I was a bit more fortunate.
What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given, and by who?
I think the best bit of advice I’ve got, and I realise it more now, is that it is important to understand that you started playing cricket because you enjoyed batting the most, but when you go on to play professionally you complicate stuff and somewhere stop enjoying the process. So the advice is to think back to the day you started playing cricket and enjoyed it, you should have the same feeling every single day.
What advice would you give to aspiring cricketers?
Advice to any aspiring cricketers would be to just find your own process and follow your own process; don’t copy anyone else. And enjoy everything – the gym sessions, running session, batting and bowling sessions – because, if you don’t enjoy those sessions, it will reflect in the match.
What are your future goals in the sport?
I think as a cricketer, the future goal for me is to win a World Cup for India. Hopefully we can get the World Cup back to India soon. And that’s the only goal at the moment.
Who inspires you both inside and outside of cricket?
I think whenever you play against or with your teammates, a lot of people around you inspire you to go one step further and work even harder. Whenever we lose a match and an opposition player has done well, it kind of inspires me to be a bit harder on myself and go further in my efforts. So, I think everyone I play along with and against inspires me in cricket. And outside cricket, I think my mum inspires me the most to be a good human and to be disciplined.