In an Exclusive Interview with the Female Cricket team, Bhavika Gajipra tells about how cricket happened, her journey as a player and coach at Middlesex Cricket and where she sights it in another decade. Bhavika Writes:

Hi, I’m Bhavika Gajipra, 25, from London, Middlesex. I am a graduate in Graphic Design, and a Level 2 cricket coach. I started coaching from the age of 17 – the age that I started playing cricket at the club level.

When I first started playing there wasn’t much cricket around and I was one of the few older girls in the club so I was coaching more than playing. I then went straight onto doing an ECB level 1 course, this allowed me to be an assistant coach at clubs and schools. As soon as I turned 18 I did my level 2 course and since then I have been coaching at schools and clubs. I also worked for Middlesex on the participation side where my role was to increase women’s and girls’ participation.

From a playing point of view – as there weren’t many women/older girls at my club I often trained with the men and later started playing men’s Saturday league cricket. Throughout the years I have continued to do this alongside playing women’s cricket. Playing men’s cricket has made a huge difference in every aspect of my cricket as it is faster and makes you think and question why you are doing certain things. I believe that if there are opportunities to play boys/men cricket they should be taken up if you are interested in taking your cricket further. My goal in cricket is to simply just keep improving and enjoying the game.

Since when are you playing cricket?

I started playing cricket in 2011 so have now been playing for 8 years. Though it feels like a lot longer as I play literally every week of the summer.

How easy/difficult is it to play women’s cricket?

From personal experience, I believe that cricket is easy to get into and play but difficult to develop in. There are many clubs around that have a women’s side but the strength of every club is varied a lot, therefore, it becomes difficult to improve. From the 8 years that I have been playing, I have only been coached for 2 years and that is only because I got into the Middlesex squad and that was at the age of 23. For 6 years I taught myself and just enjoyed watching and playing cricket. I would watch other coaches in the nets helping the boys and so would just listen out to what they are saying and learn from that.

I believe that cricket is easy to get into and play but difficult to develop in. There are many clubs around that have a women’s side but the strength of every club is varied a lot, therefore, it becomes difficult to improve.

What inspired you to play cricket?

The 2011 world cup! Once I left high school I wasn’t playing much sport and I was always looking for things to do but never actually went through with. When the cricket world cup was on I had loads of time to watch and every time I did I wanted to be playing rather than watching. I specifically remember phoning a local club after the quarter-finals of India vs Australia to ask if I could come to a session and since then I’ve pretty much been addicted to it.. a good addiction!

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At what age did you start playing cricket?

Probably a lot later then most, I started when I was 17.

How has your cricketing experience been so far?

It’s been great and every year it’s getting better with more opportunities coming. Cricket has a lot to offer and it’s given me a lot so far. I’ve picked up many skills, made so many friends including traveling to a few countries. I have been lucky enough to go on a few tours and play in different countries that have also allowed me to play on amazing grounds such as Newlands and St. Georges in South Africa and also against great plays like Deandra Dottin.

How does it feel to be playing for Middlesex?

It’s a great feeling to know that the hard work I’ve put in has got me into a position where I am good enough to play a competitive level and share the dressing room with great players who help me to develop in my own game. I also get the opportunity to play against other great players which challenges me every time I play for Middlesex.

As a coach, what has been your best memory?

Getting girls to enjoy their cricket and believe that they can do better.

Coming from an Asian background my parents do question why I play and spend so much time on it but when they see that I’ve done well they’re happy about it and of course will bring it up at family events.

As a player, what’s your favorite moment?

Playing my first match with the Middlesex Women at Lord’s and picking up the first wicket for the team at such an iconic ground in front of a crowd.

How supportive are your friends and family towards you playing cricket?

My friends are very supportive, more so because most of them play themselves. Coming from an Asian background my parents do question why I play and spend so much time on it but when they see that I’ve done well they’re happy about it and of course will bring it up at family events. I often miss family events/weddings and all so some of my cousins poke at me sometimes too, but they think it’s cool that I play! Even now my mum would still ask why I play and waste time on it but she knows I’m not going to stop playing so she just deals with it and doesn’t mind now I guess.

Who are your favorite female and male cricketers?

My favorite female cricketer would be Beth Morgan. Male – I have three… Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Yuvraj Singh.

Why are they your favorite cricketers?

Beth Morgan – I’ve been lucky enough to have played 2 seasons with Beth at Middlesex and to see her work ethic on the field and in training sessions has been a great help in knowing how I would like to go about my cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar – when I was younger I used to watch his batting, his speeches, his net sessions, whatever I could find and everyone else loved him so he was always talked about in a good manner so why would you not want to work towards that?!

Rahul Dravid – I’m a big fan of Indian cricket and the first time I watched a live India match was in 2011. It was the series against England were Rahul Dravid was in incredible form during the test series, it was amazing to watch and throughout the test series I picked up on so many things on his batting that I tried to copy or learn from. The mindset he has is unbelievable and it’s one of the biggest things I’ve picked up on, which has probably helped me the most in my cricket. He’s one cricketer that I hope to meet one day!

Yuvraj Singh – always found a way to come back and find his way to playing for India however hard it got. And from that, I’ve learned that I may not have the best seasons year in and year out and but that’s just how cricket and most sports are!

Image Source: Twitter

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This article was first published on Female Cricket.

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