What did you use to do at the age of 3-4? Probably crying - so that your parents allow you to stay at home instead of sending you school? The new face of Indian women’s cricket team – Richa Ghosh certainly had some other plan at the same age. At the age of 4, she used to have a bat in her hand.
While speaking to The Bridge, an excited Richa Ghosh expressed, "I started playing cricket after seeing my father who used to play. Later, I joined the Bagha Jatin Athletic Club. Head coach Barun Banerjee and Gopal Saha helped me there."
Although many thought she would earn her maiden India call up soon, how many of you have thought it will come for the mega event like T20 World Cup? A stellar outing in the Challenger Trophy propelled her in the T20 World Cup squad. Her journey was so fast that it was difficult to realise also. From that to Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) – it didn’t take much time for her to reach.
"I played Under-19 at the age of 11 and at the same year I got selected in the senior team." – this certainly tells how impressive and talented she is.
Richa Ghosh appeared in the Challenger Trophy and scored 98 runs in four games. She played a key role in India B’s journey to the final. Her fearless batting impressed everyone, especially two knocks which took the limelight away from others. In the second game of the series, she scored 25 off 26 on a rather slow track, where India B lost 4 early wickets that too within 26 runs against India C. Coming in at 20 for 2, Richa showed a great intent with the bat.
The other game was in the final group league match, where she smashed a quickfire 36 off 26 balls while chasing 149 against India C. After losing both the key players - Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues, the onus was on her too. She took on every bowler which certainly helped India B to reach a comfortable position.
"Since it was a T20 game, I had one thing in mind – to create pressure on the bowlers. Moreover, we had lost a few wickets earlier and I didn’t want to lose any more balls which crate opportunity to score,'' she said.
The series was so important for her as she got to share the dressing room with many international players. "Smriti and Jemi are like family. It was great to share the dressing room with them. They helped me a lot – be it in batting or fielding," she told about India B team.
However, the news surprised the rookie batter of Bengal who was busy playing Bengal Challengers Trophy, organized by CAB at Mankundu, Hooghly.
"I was totally surprised when I heard the news. There was a match going on in Mankundu. I got the news during lunch. My teammates and everybody else who were present there also congratulated me,'' said the youngster.
She was called for the senior Bengal camp in 2012-13 and after her Senior T20 debut in the 2017-18 season, Richa has evolved as a good middle-order batter. Moreover, in the 2019-20 season, her role became crucial in the absence of Tanusree Sarkar as she joined Railways.
In addition to that, who can forget her 39-run partnership with experienced India all-rounder Rumeli Dhar in the final of senior domestic T20 tournament which included two huge sixes off the fast bowlers?
"Everyone has a responsibility in the team. I do try my best to score quickly and help my side. I didn’t feel any pressure playing against Railways in the senior domestic final. Although I have played against them two years ago, I couldn’t play last year due to injury. Even the live stream of the game also didn’t affect at all,'' she replied about her facing a star-studded Railways team.
While she has played under the legend Jhulan Goswami’s captaincy for Bengal, she has recently played under Smriti Mandhana in the Challenger Trophy. Furthermore, she has revealed the secret of her huge sixes.
"Jhulu di (Jhulan Goswami) is an aggressive captain whereas Smriti di (Smriti Mandhana) is pretty calm and composed. I used to play with the boys which helped me to hit big sixes. Moreover, we have camps and we practice there too," revealed Ghosh.
Regardless of that, the study certainly took a back seat now for the Class X student of Margaret (Sister Nivedita) English School. "As I chose cricket over study, I don’t feel any pressure though. I can give the exam next year but its World Cup and I certainly can’t miss that! As it is an opportunity of a lifetime."
While her father’s passion brought her in the game, she has been doing great so far with example in all three departments. Although a not-so-regular bowler in the senior team she bowls in the Under-19 team and keeps too. She was named Bengal cricketer of the year in 2018. "I am a batting all-rounder. I bowled and kept wickets in the under-19 team. Even I do practice all – batting, bowling and keeping in the nets."
However, it was not a bed of roses for her father – Manabendra Ghosh - the club-level player turned umpire who had to give up his business. Despite staying in Siliguri, he had to go to Kolkata frequently for her daughter.
"My family doesn’t want anything from me. If you have a passion, you will get the way. Although I faced the financial problem, that didn’t affect her cricket. Her kits come from her salary as well. That certainly helps," said the senior Ghosh.
While you’re seeing the plant today, the seeds were planted much before. His younger daughter used to travel with him in his games.
“She used to come with me and play with bat and ball. Although we didn’t take it seriously at first, she became very serious about the game. Then I enrolled her in the Bagha Jatin Athletic Club where she was the youngest among all," shared Manabendra Ghosh.
As they say, if there is a will, there is a way. The senior Ghosh did everything which ensured her daughter gets a good coaching camp and training. Staying at a place like Siliguri, you certainly don’t get all the facilities like a city.
"When she was 7-8, I went to meet the legend Jhulan Goswami. The sole purpose was to arrange some camps in Siliguri if possible, since we belong to a rather backward place. I spoke to the club and then went to meet her as Richa was the only girl there and I wanted some camps or coaching classes there," added Mr Ghosh.
"Even Jhulan Goswami was eager to come there and coach but our club didn’t show any interest at that time. However, later 'Mahakuma Krira Parishad' started the camp. At first, I thought it was a normal coaching camp but later I got to know that it was the selection camp of Under-19. I didn’t take it seriously as I thought she would get to learn," he said.
"Surprisingly, she got the chance next year in Kalyani and then she played in the tournament organized by Mithu Mukherjee. Jhulan Goswami awarded her ‘promising player of the Year’as well. The year was so good that she got the call for U-19 trial and within 11-12 she was in the Bengal team," expressed Ghosh.
Nonetheless, with this call-up, Richa Ghosh has fulfilled her father’s dream. Now it’s on the youngster to retain her spot in the squad.
"My dream has been fulfilled. It was my dream to see her in the India team. Now it’s upto her how she will perform and stay there. For me, whatever comes more, will be a bonus," said the proud father.