I feel regret for not being able to perform in the qualifier, says Kajal Shrestha

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What are some names that pop into your mind when you ponder Nepalese women’s cricket? I guess that will be Rubina Chhetry, Sita Rana Magar, Nery Thapa, Indu Barma. It’s obvious to come up with their name as they have been proving to us over the years that cricket isn’t only the boys game.

Although they are the title of beautiful stories taking shape lately, many women are still not properly recognised. As Nepal is sighting for a World Cup spot, it’s high time for us to bring forward all the warriors who have worked hard in their lives to beat all the odds. 

Debuted for Nepal back in 2014, Kajal Shrestha has been an integral part of the Nepal women’s cricket team for the last few years. Wicket-Keeper Opening batter, Kajal, has been averaging 12.09 for Nepal in Twenty20 International matches. Having room for improvement, this is a  decent number in associate women’s cricket so far, where targets below 100 runs are being defended more often than not.

Bhawana Ghimire caught up with Kajal Shrestha in a telephonic conversation with a motive to bring some insightful information and thoughts about the 22-year-old ambitious lady. 

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– Please take us through your cricketing journey so far?

The journey started with my participation in an inter-school cricket tournament. Biru Shrestha, a well-renowned name in women’s cricket here, used to organise inter-school cricket tournaments and picked potential players from thereon. I was fortunate enough to be in his sight. Biru sir (Shrestha) did the most challenging task to convince the parents to train me in the academy (Milan Cricket Academy)

Back then when I started, I honestly didn’t have an idea on whether women’s cricket even exists or not. I was adjudged as batswoman of the tournament in the Under-19 selection which eventually grows my interest in pursuing a professional career.

All the hard work followed by the right guidance from my coach (Biru Shrestha) helped me to represent my country for the very first time in 2014. I’m very proud to be a regular member of the national side since 2018 and taking over the job behind the stump.

– Tell us something about the contribution of your family so far?

– I would have been nowhere, hadn’t they supported me through this journey. They faced many questions and criticisms from relatives for allowing me to play cricket, they thought it’s only the men’s game. Hopefully, I will be able to keep answering those questions. Cricket is a very expensive game, you need your family’s full-back financially as well.

– Did you play any other sports growing up?

– I haven’t played any other sports besides cricket. Kakarvitta is largely known for cricket and as a kid, I also got fascinated by this game of cricket.

– What is your best memories in cricket so far?

– Nothing can match the level of satisfaction you get after wearing the Nepal national cricket team jersey. Besides this, winning Prime Minister Cup and the Women’s Champions League are two other moments that are close to my heart. I believe the best is yet to come and the ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup.

  • What changes you have seen in women’s cricket in Nepal?

I believe we are going through a transformation as far as women’s cricket is concerned. There was nothing on offer for women’s cricket three-four years ago. There is still much room for improvement, but we are getting national tournaments regularly and the Cricket Association of Nepal also initiated a contract system.

Private sectors are gradually coming together for the betterment of women’s cricket. Women’s Champions League was a very good boost for us.

If you would get a chance to change the result of any previous match from your career. Which would that be?

Without any second thought, It would be the final match of ICC World Twenty20 Asia Qualifier 2019 against Thailand. Despite performing well throughout the tournament, we were frustrated after not being able to make a place in the global qualifier.

I could have contributed a bit more as an opener while chasing the modest target. It’s my biggest regret so far.

Is there anyone who you looked after as a role model?

Being a wicket-keeper opening batter, I look after Sarah Taylor from England. Her story on and off the field are so inspiring for any women cricketers.
Taylor’s speed, agility and quick reflexes as awicketkeeper are a visual treat to all the cricket fans. Besides her wicket-keeping, I also look after her batting approach as an opener.

Being a regular member of the national women cricket team, what are the steps do you think need to be taken for the betterment of women’s cricket in Nepal?

CAN is doing good work lately as far as development in women’s cricket is concerned. We as a player admire all the good works from the administration. Our major requirement now is a foreign coach who could bring all-important experience to cope under crunch situation in coming days.

We are nearing the World Cup Qualifier, so we hope the administration will give major priority to our preparation. We need another proper venue for our camp, in case TU is occupied by the men’s team. CAN should look after optional venues with similar facilities.

What are your messages to the fans and the budding cricketers in Nepal?

– All the girls should dare to dream. Take obstacles and problems as a part of your dream and keep working hard. I’m very grateful to my parents, friends and fans for supporting me in this journey. I need same kind of love and support throughout my career and beyond it. Hopefully, I will make you all proud one day.

Kajal Shrestha is one of the daring cricketers from the very productive land of cricket, Jhapa. She keeps reflecting on her World Cup dream throughout the conversation. World Cup participation would certainly boost women’s cricket in the Himalayan Nation and bring all the hard-working faces into the limelight.

Feature Image – onlinekhabar

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