MAMATHA MABEN: GUIDING CHINA'S WOMEN CRICKETERS

How are you approaching introducing the new-comers to the game?

"Like I said, we show them the videos of international matches. There is not much interest when we show the men’s games but they were all engrossed when I showed them the games of the recently concluded Women’s World Cup in Australia. They can relate to that better in the sense that if they saw a man hitting a six, they would think that it’s only normal because of the power they possess. But when women hit boundaries, they then acknowledge the fact that they too can do such things. There is a lot of initiative being taken by all the girls and things look promising."

Are Chinese girls from other sports keen on taking up cricket?

"Yes, we do have some girls who have played softball taking an interest in the game. If they do decide to join cricket, we would go on to have a wonderful bowling attack. These kinds of developments are encouraging to see."

Both Rashid Khan (Chinese men’s national coach) and you are working toward the same cause. Do you both discuss development strategies?

"Rashid does help a lot. He has been in China for two years and has gained a lot of experience from his time there. I am fortunate to have him alongside me and he is a great help to women’s cricket. He is truly committed and a genuine person. Aminul Islam has also given me and the team so much of his time, which I am very appreciative for."

How have the past few months been coaching the Chinese women? What are the biggest challenges you faced?

“The game is very new and foreign to them there but the biggest hurdle was the language barrier. Communication is very important in cricket so conversing with them was vital. Even though there is a translator, I’m sure the message translated is not a 100%. They did not have any idea of the sport because they’ve never seen it being played so the only time they watched the game on TV was when they were showed videos of matches. I’ve only had about 12 weeks or so coaching them but it has been a real pleasure for me. “

Why is it such a pleasure to coach them?

“First and most importantly, they are always keen to perform at every level. Their dedication and grasp of the game is astonishing and I give them full credit. When I first came some of the girls were reluctant to play their shots but now they are driving at will. Give them some time and a lot more exposure and I’m sure in about five years’ time, they will be challenging the top-rung women’s cricket teams.”

What more has to be done for cricket to progress in China?

"The officials need to take a stand and work collectively for the betterment of the game. Our teams also need to play more international practise games. There is hope for women’s cricket because unlike in the men’s game, the gap between the teams is not as vast. Our infrastructure and the exposure to cricket is also a vital part of pushing this game to the people. Over time, school and club cricket has to be introduced so there is a larger pool of players coming up constantly. Our governance too needs to be much stronger than it is."

As a former player and captain – how have you prepared the team mentally?

"We are yet to get to that stage in cricket. Maybe after this tournament has concluded we will move onto the mental side of the game. They have to move up one level in their game and then we will put them through the motions. We know the mental aspect of the game is very important as well and if your mind is focused, you can deliver your best. Chinese cricket will reach that stage and I am positive of that."

Related: India’s Maben In China
Indian Coach For China's Women

Filed June 23, 2009