Cricket is one sport which has bloomed in India since its early days. The people of India are crazy for this beautiful game and as clichéd as it may sound, ‘Cricketers are no less than God’, in the country. From the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev to the modern day stars like Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, the male cricketers have always enjoyed a cult status in this country. The same, definitely, can’t be said about women’s cricket and cricketers.
Surely, the women’s cricket in India is slowly catching up with the men’s cricket, but a lot needs to be done in order for it to reach the same level. The modern day players like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana etc. are widely recognised and are popular among fans, but the older generation of women cricketers in India remain largely unknown.
One such name in Indian women’s cricket is Sandhya Agarwal. A lot before the likes of Rajs and Mandhanas came to the scene, Agarwal was the mainstay of Indian batting for almost a decade. Born in May 1963 at Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Sandhya Agarwal was a batswoman who could roll her arm over with part-time off-spin. She rose through the ranks very quickly and made her international debut against Australia in February 1984 and later went on to captain the team.
Right from her debut, she made a potent pair with Shantha Rangaswamyand went on to become a vital cog in the Indian line up. Her brightest moment in the cricket field came when she scored 190 runs in an innings in a Test Match against England at Worchester in the year 1986. During the course of this innings, Agarwal went past Betty Snowball’s score of 189 runs which was set in 1935 to register the then highest individual score in women’s cricket. The record was soon broken by Australian Dennis Annetts who went on to score 193 runs in an innings the following year. Agarwal’s score was then crossed many a times by various players but it remains the seventh highest score in women’s test cricket and it is still the second highest by an Indian woman in test cricket, only bettered by Mithali Raj.
Agarwal still remains India’s highest run getter in the longest format with 1110 runs in 13 matches at an average of 50.45 runs per innings and is also the sixth highest run scorer in women’s test cricket. Among Indians with more than 1000 test runs, her batting average is bettered only by Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Virat Kohli.
She was equally good with the bat in limited overs, scoring 567 runs at an average of 31.05 in 21 matches.She last played for India in November 1995 and has since gone to serve in different capacities at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association and also as the member of BCCI Women’s Committee.
She was rewarded with an honorary life membership by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for her contribution to the game of cricket in 2017. In every sense, Sandhya Agarwal remains a true legend of women’s cricket in India.