Inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) winners Rajasthan Royals confirmed the appointment of Australian legend Lisa Sthalekar as the advisor- Youth Cricket’ for Junior Programmes.
In October 2018, Rajasthan Royals had successfully launched the youth programs Royal Colts (for boys) and Royal Sparks (for girls). At that time, Sthalekar was part of the felicitation ceremony of the selected youngsters in Jaipur.
Right since the inception of the IPL, the Rajasthan Royals franchise have always backed young, and relatively talents to flourish. From Swapnil Asnodkar, the opening batter from Goa, in the first two seasons, to Kevon Cooper, the allounder from West Indies between 2012-2014, and now Riyan Parag and Shreyas Gopal, they have a keen eye to spot the talent.
Close to 3000 children attended the trails in Jaipur last year, and the selected group of girls and boys got a chance to travel to Nagpur for a high-performance training camp. They got a chance develop and learn their game from coaches associated with the Royals and attended numerous sessions of mental conditioning and nutrition-based classes which are the key aspects of the modern game.
Speaking about her appointment, Sthalekar, who was a member of Australia Women’s World Cup-winning teams in 2005 and 2013, said, “Rajasthan Royals has done exceptional work in unearthing cricket talent. They have then been successful in providing these individuals with the right platform to grow. More so, I am delighted to be part of programmes that are giving equal opportunities to talent across girls and boys, while also spreading the reach of the game.”
Sthalekar will be responsible for the nurturing of the selected youngsters of Colts and Sparks. Sthalekar will create a year-round programme for them which will include high-performance camps and competitions for the selected individuals. She will also take the added responsibility to spot the talent and introduce young girls to the game of cricket.
“I am extremely pleased to join Rajasthan Royals as an advisor. I am looking forward to my role of identifying and nurturing cricketing talent, especially the girls so that they can make a mark for themselves in the cricketing world,” added Sthalekar.
Sthalekar is a well-respected figure in cricketing circles. In her prime as a cricketer, she helped Australia win the 2013 World Cup and also played a crucial role in the side’s victory in 2005. She was an allrounder who batted in the top-order and also bowled off-spin, and was the first women to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in one day internationals. She scored 2728 runs and claimed 146 wickets in ODIs. Sthalekar announced her retirement soon after the 2013 World Cup.
“As a team, we are taking baby steps towards building strong grassroots programs,” Ranjit Barthakur, Executive Chairman, Rajasthan Royals said. “The talent at grassroots is huge and has great potential, especially among the girls. We welcome Lisa to the Royals family and we are confident that with her efforts, that the team will continue to progress and excel in building a nationwide programme where every talented kid can come and showcase their skills, get mentored and trained by the best professionals in the sport.”
The 2017 World Cup which took place in England was in many ways a catalyst for women’s cricket in India to flourish. The young girls now want to emulate the likes of Jhulan Gosswami, Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur. Taking a cue from it the BCCI launched the inaugural season of the Women’s T20 Challenge, an equivalent to the IPL. The women cricketers from across the globe participated in the tournament which was held in the Royals home ground at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. With the appointment of Sthalekar, it is safe to say that the Rajasthan Royals franchise has taken a right step at a great time.