Meet Minnu Mani: Tribal Cricketer From Kerala, Ready To Play For India
Budding cricketer Minnu Mani comes from a village of district Wayanad, Kerala. But her humble beginnings have not stopped her dream to play cricket. Having represented India A in the Bangladesh tour and the Women’s Emerging Asia Cup outing recently, her next goal is to don the Indian jersey and be a part of the women in blue.
Here’s Minnu Mani in an exclusive chat…
Tell us something about your early days, how did your cricketing career begin?
I started playing at the age of 13 when I was in 8th grade. Actually I used to play before that as well but in my locality itself – most of the time with my cousin brothers. So I started playing with boys, I was the only girl who used to play with them. I used to watch all cricket matches that aired on the TV growing up.
Who were some of the cricketers that you admired growing up?
I really liked MS Dhoni and I love to watch South Africa’s Quinton de Kock bat. They’ve both been my favorites.
I feel that we should be given equal opportunities only then can we get more exposure and the game will be further promoted among girls in the country.
You were a part of ACC’s Emerging Asia Cup – how was that experience?
It was a good experience with the India A team. I got a chance in every game – I played all the matches and I think I performed well in every game. This is a positive that I will take ahead with me.
What was your favourite moment from this tournament?
We were the champions – the last game against Sri Lanka was a thriller and we won that. So it definitely was the best moment for me from the tournament.
What have you always enjoyed more – batting or bowling?
Comparatively, I enjoy batting more, especially when it’s up the order. Bowling wise, I haven’t ever tried other variations and have always been an off-spin bowler.
Career-wise – what are your next and ultimate goals?
My next goal is to be consistent with my performances, I think I haven’t been consistent and have to really work on that. So that’d be the next thing that I have to focus on. My ultimate goal? That is to obviously play for India as soon as possible!
How do you think the Kerala Cricket Association has contributed to your journey?
They surely have a huge contribution. We are now getting enough camp facilities, so in that way, they’re helping a lot. All my coaches have been supportive. From 9th grade to now my final university year, I have practiced at 3 academies and all the academy coaches have been nice. They’ve worked a lot on me – with regard to my skills and fitness.
What do you enjoy doing when not playing cricket?
Actually, currently I am doing my degree and the exams are coming so when off-field, I am totally focused on that. Because of cricket, I couldn’t give my final year exams and so I need to complete that first now. I am done with my graduation technically; I was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, just being left to give the exams.
How difficult was it to manage professional cricket with academics?
It was very difficult – especially when you have board exam years like 10th, 12th and graduation. I used to study whenever I got free time when attending camps only though. When I had matches or important tournaments I didn’t study at all – one wouldn’t want to take too much risk before such important games! (laughs).
Coming from a small town, how difficult was it to go ahead with pro cricket?
We have very few facilities, but we are using those facilities to our fullest because only with those we can improve and do better. In my hometown, Mananthavady, there’s no ground or other facilities for practicing. So I have to travel every day – approximately one and a half hour per side, to Krishnagiri for practice that makes it travel of all-in-all around 3 hours in a day, which is hectic.
So I started playing with boys, I was the only girl who used to play with them. I used to watch all cricket matches that aired on the TV growing up.
How do you think women’s cricket has improved over the years in India?
It has improved in a big way. Now it is way more popular than it was back in the day. We are getting lots of chances as the number of tournaments has been increased too. The status of women’s cricket in India is getting better by the day.
How do you think women’s cricket can be further promoted in India?
As I said, there has been a lot of change but if you see – females get very fewer opportunities if you compare that to what the male cricketers get. I feel that we should be given equal opportunities only then can we get more exposure and the game will be further promoted among girls in the country.
Minnu’s hard work and persistence will certainly pay off and we hope to see her in the blues soon, team Female Cricket wishes her the best!