'Training accordingly holds key'
In an interview with Arif Mohammad, former Indian captain Anjum Chopra talks about cricket post-COVID, transformation of women's cricket and more
You have represented your school and college in athletics, basketball and swimming. How did cricket come up?
I started playing cricket before any other sport. It has always been in the background. I started training at a very young age. It was because neither my school nor my college had a cricket team, I had the luxury of venturing across other sports. My school had a basketball team. I was a part of it and similarly for my college and eventually for the Delhi state team.
Since your cricketing days, women's cricket has had a complete makeover. Any particular turning point?
Yes definitely. Professionalism in women's cricket has gone up and it is more structured now from Women's Cricket Association of India to BCCI. It's not just the game, everything around the sport has developed. The game is a product of the inputs you put around the entire structure and harness accordingly. It is also much stronger financially. When all these things are enclaved, organising and facilitating the development of the game becomes much better. Talking about turning points, there are many. First, BCCI taking over. Then the contracts came in. The women's team reaching the finals of the 2017 World Cup. Quite a few watershed moments, but the most recent one is reaching the finals of the 2020 T20 World Cup. With wide coverage, it also contributed to the makeover. It's been a step-by-step process with contributions on many fronts.
Your favourite knock and your bowling spell in recent times...
A special knock has to be Harmanpreet Kaur's 171* (115) against Australia in the 2017 World Cup semi-final. A very special talent indeed! Bowling spells there would be many. Difficult to pick up one. Poonam Yadav bamboozled Australia's much-vaunted middle order to take 4 for 19 in the recently concluded T20 WC. Ekta Bisht's 5-18 against Pakistan in the 2017 WC semis was also great to watch.
Coming to post-pandemic cricket, what do you think of the 'No Saliva Rule'?
It won't be difficult to implement the rule. In two Tests, we had just one instance where a player applied saliva on the ball. When cricket comes to India, we won't have the problem of 'not sweating' — a substitute to saliva. It might be a concern playing in cooler conditions like England, Australia or New Zealand. With time and a few more games, I think we won't have any problem with the rule. At the end of the day, if it's not allowed, it's not allowed. Training accordingly what you are allowed to do in a match hold key.
Your message for our readers and your fans
In such crisis times, we need to fight the pandemic together. We need to learn to 'coexist safely' with COVID. There is a definite danger in interacting with people, but at the same time, we need to move on. It is not possible for everyone to sit at home, but at the same time do not step out of your homes, until it's very important. So taking precautions — washing hands frequently, wearing masks and ensuring social distancing — is the way forward.