Coming from the remote village of Bandlapalli (Anantapur), B Anusha was introduced to cricket by the physical education teacher in her school in 2014. Everything changed when she decided to take part in a rural cricket tournament organised by the Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA).
No sooner had she thought about it did she participate in the tournament. Her performances left the academy selectors amazed – and she was offered a scholarship by ASA to receive coaching and educational support. ASA is a sport-for-development initiative working towards empowering rural children in Andhra Pradesh. After becoming a part of ASA, Anusha, through her hard work, accomplished several feats and also broke gender stereotypes prevailing in this region.
We had a chat with her about her journey.
Q: Anusha, could you tell us about how you started playing cricket?
A: It all started when I was in class 7. My physical education (PE) teacher encouraged me to play cricket and to take part in the rural cricket tournament at the Anantapur Sports Village. I was the ‘Best Player’ of the tournament. That helped me get selected in the ASA Cricket Academy. Since then, I have continued my passion for cricket, day and night.
Q: How does it feel to captain the Under-16 Andhra Pradesh team?
A: It is a great feeling – and at the same time, it has also made me more responsible while taking charge of the side.
Q: Recently, you played in the BCCI Under-19 Women’s League. How was that experience?
My performance in the Andhra Pradesh under-16 team got me selected in the squad. It was an important tournament in my career and a learning experience for me. We won the league after playing a tough match against Mumbai on November 30, 2017 at Guntur. Moreover, I got to practise with many India A players and also learn from them.
Q: Could you tell us about your family? What were the difficulties you faced initially, when you started playing cricket?
A: My parents are daily wage labourers and I have a elder brother. Coming from a humble background, initially, I didn’t have proper gears and kit. But, on seeing my progress, the ASA cricket programme provided me the necessary support, as regards cricket coaching. They also supported me in my education.
Q: What targets have you set for yourself for 2019? What will be your ultimate dream?
In 2019, I plan to have more of exposure and to stretch my fitness levels even further. My ultimate dream would be to represent the Indian cricket team and inspire more girls to take up sports and play for their country.
Q: As an all-rounder, which is your favourite skill in cricket?
My favourite bowling trick is the off-cutter. While batting, it is the off-side cover drive.
Q: Who are your role models/players you look up to?
They are Mithali Raj (captain of the Indian women’s cricket team) and Harmanpreet Kaur (an all-rounder in the team).
Q: We heard that you met Mahendra Singh Dhoni recently? How and when did you meet him?
A: We were practising in the cricket nets in Ranchi, Jharkhand for the BCCI Under-19 league. MS Dhoni also happened to be practising on the same ground. On seeing our practice session, he wished us best of luck for our future matches. We also managed to get an autograph.
Q: How has sports changed your life?
A: It has provided me with multiple opportunities to excel in sports and even in my studies. It has instilled in me the confidence to face problems in life. Moreover, it has helped me to work together in a team and to communicate better with others.