In a news statement that is released by the Telangana government says that cricketer Sindhuja Reddy has been selected to represent USA in the qualifying match for women’s World Cup.The 26-year-old, who played for Hyderabad in the domestic circuit, has been selected as a wicket-keeping batswoman in the American team.
Hailing from Amangal village in the Nalgonda district, Sindhuja will be part of the squad representing USA in the World T20 Qualifiers in Scotland scheduled to begin in August. But, why would a girl from Telangana, not play for India and rather represent USA in cricket, you’d ask? Well, her story is as inspirational as anyone in the history of sports.
Born in a cricket-crazy nation like India, the fact that Sindhuja had keen interest in the sport was not really a surprise. For many years, the distinct roar of an annoying engine passing near Sindhuja’s home was her alarm clock.
A groggy 11-year-old reluctantly pulled herself out of bed to join her father Spurdhar Reddy, who had set incredibly high standards for his daughter and son.
Joining her father and brother, Mohinder (named after former Indian cricketer Mohinder Amarnath), Sindhuja rode to the Hindi Maha Vidhyalaya Cricket Academy grounds in Hyderabad at 4:00 am. It was the very same ground where former first-class cricketer Vijay Kumar spotted the innate talent in Sindhuja.
He referred her to Purnima Rau, a coach who groomed the Hyderabad women’s cricket team and is currently the head coach of the Indian women’s cricket team. During her tenure, she gave India priceless gems in Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami.
The Training That Changed Her Life
After spending some time with Rau, Sindhuja was elevated to the company of Manohar Reddy – head coach at the Maha Vidhyalaya Cricket Academy. A hard taskmaster, Manohar ensured Sindhuja was batting in the nets well before sunrise every day. Batting for two hours at a stretch, Sindhuja would eat her breakfast and change for school at the ground itself after a rigorous net session.
After school hours, Sindhuja headed back to the academy where coach Manohar was waiting with the floodlights on for more training. Like most women cricketers, Sindhuja, too, grew up facing boys in the nets, but her coach was not one for mollycoddling.
The boys, cricketers from different age groups, were instructed not to hold back. The faster they bowled at Sindhuja, the greater the appreciation they received from coach Manohar. While using a stump as bat, if she missed a cut or pull shot, her coach would often use the other stump to hit her on the calf.
If she slacked during a catching session, the bowling machine speed would be hiked up, and the number of balls used would be increased further. If her hand turned blue, it was tied up behind her back, leaving Sindhuja to complete the catching drills with just one hand.
The Driving Force
At the age of just 14, Sindhuja was included in the probable list for the Andhra Pradesh senior women’s cricket team. She was listed as a stand-by for the tournament, but her career choice was significantly influenced by her prodigious progress and the prophetic words of her coach who had foreseen her future as a prominent member of the Indian women’s cricket team.
During her first Sub-Junior National Camp in 2004, the young Sindhuja seemed like a fish out of water, given the fact that most of the players were older and some of them were already a part of the national team. Feeling out of place, Sindhuja found it hard to cope with all the pressure, but she didn’t give up.
However, the sacrifices of her parents became a driving force for Sindhuja to succeed. Her father had stopped attending social gatherings and declined other opportunities to avoid travel as he wanted to be available for his daughter. Her mother would get up at 4:00 am and cook for her. She would pack her breakfast snacks and lunch.Most of her homework was done by her mother. Both her parents had planned their lives around their daughter’s cricket career. And, that’s exactly what motivated Sindhuja and helped her overcome the tough times early in her career.
Rising Through The Ranks
Making full use of her rigorous training and with a hunger to ensure her parents’ efforts didn’t go to waste, Sindhuja’s ever-improving skills helped her break into the All India Seniors Team in both the National One-Day Tournament and the All India Juniors Women events.Being on both teams saw her juggle dual roles. While she took lessons from experienced players in the seniors’ team, Sindhuja – who was by then the captain of Hyderabad’s under-19 team – was seen playing the role of a mentor to the inexperienced players in the junior’s side.
She fulfilled the role of a true leader and became a trustworthy member of the junior’s team. Her experience in the seniors’ squad made it easy for her teammates in the junior’s side to follow her lead and further develop their own individual game.
Soon, Sindhuja became one of the most-talked about female cricketers in the domestic circuit, following her sublime performances in the Ranji Trophy.
From 2006 to 2015, Sindhuja remained a prominent member of her state team with the promise of becoming one India’s greats in women’s cricket.
Realising Her Dream On Foreign Soil
But just when things looked in order, Sindhuja faced her biggest challenge, the one that threatened her career as a cricketer. She got married to Siddhartha Reddy and got settled in the US. Her move to the States meant that Sindhuja’s promising career in cricket was now a far-fetched dream.
However, despite moving away from her homeland and, more importantly, from cricket, Sindhuja continued to dream on with the limited opportunities that came her way. As her mother Lakshmi Reddy recalled, Sindhuja continued her struggle even after marriage to carve out a niche for herself.
She has already made her mark in the United States as a cricketer, representing a couple cricket clubs – one of them being Atlantis Cricket Club of New York. Sindhuja has also won two prestigious national awards – Best Wicket-keeper of the Tournament and Woman-of-the-Match – while representing Atlantis at the Georgia Women Cricket Association’s Annual Women’s T20 Tournament in 2016.
Sindhuja was also one of the elite players selected to represent the USA against England’s prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) that came touring in 2016. And, her selection in the country’s national team undeniably places her at the very top of her field, not only making India proud, but now, also the United States of America.