Women’s IPL will help Indian players gain confidence, says Sushma Verma

Sushma Verma celebrates a wicket. © Getty Images

Sushma Verma, India wicket-keeper, feels new players need to be given enough chances to get used the pressures of international cricket and build a settled squad to win trophies.

“I feel that everybody should get enough time to get used to the pressure of international cricket,” she told CricTracker. “Then the players would get confidence and play fearlessly. If somebody comes up and says one low score would get me out (of the team), nobody will perform with that kind of pressure. If someone tells me that you have a year or two to work your skills, that’s how the mindset should be.”

The 27-year-old, who was part of the Indian side that reached the final of the 2017 World Cup, feels teams like Australia are wary of India now and is happy to see the team make the knockout stages of global tournaments consistently.

“I’m happy that we are making it to the finals in every big event. Earlier, people weren’t concerned about us. But now, they are talking about women’s cricket in the same breath as that of men’s cricket. It’s a long-term thing, and the players along with the support staff and selectors should work towards the same goal. It’s not about skills and fitness, it’s about our approach,” she said.

Verma, who last played for India in 2018, thinks one of the main reasons Australia have broken away from the rest of the pack is because of the exposure to high pressure scenarios in Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). It means their domestic players are able to transition to international cricket seamlessly.

“The Aussies are already on top and that’s how they played in the (T20 World Cup) final, you feel like a lion tasting blood, it’s a different feeling and then it becomes a habit,” she said.

“Their batters, coming at number seven and eight, play expertly enough for us to think that they have been playing international cricket forever. It’s not that they have played a whole lot more than our players. But the exposure and confidence they get in their WBBL teams, playing at the top order, are priceless.”

With several players – former and current – calling for the expansion of the Women’s T20 Challenge competition, Verma too jumped on the bandwagon, adding that it will help Indian domestic players gain exposure and confidence like their Australian counterparts. “The more they score in domestic cricket, WBBL, the more confident they get while playing for Australia. They play in front of large crowds as well. I have heard that there will be four team next time in the Women’s T20 Challenge and it’s something positive, and that’s how we get exposure. If players get to rub shoulders with the big players globally, they will learn a lot.”

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“Unlike previous times, our players are more confident in front of Australian players, having shared the dressing room. The hesitation has gone away. As an Indian, most of the times, cricketers are strangled by inhibitions. Now things are different. Players, who used to be shy, are so talkative now,” she added.

Verma, who played multiple sports while growing up, talked about the strong bond she shared with her sports crazy grandfather and how she wished he could have seen her play for India.

“If cricket came into my mind, it was because of my grandfather. Both of us started listening to radio commentary when I was in third or fourth standard. He didn’t speak much, but whenever he did, he sounded like an expert. He didn’t play the game but thought so high about cricket and other sports,” she said.

“Behind the urge to wake up early, feeling sleepy, there’s one person my grandfather. I feel very unfortunate that when I first played for India, I couldn’t share my feelings with him. He wanted to see me play for India. When I played for Board XI, I told him that I was very close to my target. After I made my debut, I wanted to tell him how excited I was, but I couldn’t.”

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