“Cricket is my passion and I will continue to play the game till I find myself fit both mentally and physically,” says Sharmila Naik, a woman tennis ball cricket player who has been representing Goa for the last 17 years.
Sharmila, an all-rounder, first played for Goa at junior level in 2002 and since then she has represented the state in various junior, sub-junior and senior level national championships.
“I had always been interested in cricket and began playing the game at young age with the boys in my vicinity,” says the 30-year-old from Porvorim.
“Seeing my interest and getting impressed by my talent, one of my cousins took me for junior level tennis ball cricket trials, where I got selected and after that I consistently played for Goa in various national level tournaments,” she adds.
In the last 17-odd years Sharmila played alongside many of Goa’s top players who then went on to represent the state in season ball cricket; one of whom is Shikha Pandey who eventually made it to the Indian team and has been doing quite well especially with the ball.
Ask her whether she regrets not making it big just like her other contemporaries and the veteran cricketer who is an employee at a pharmacy in Porvorim says: “No. Not at all. I did go for season ball cricket selection once but was not selected. After that I never attended any such selection trials. Shikha got selected and she then switched over to season ball cricket.”
“But I have played season ball cricket once – in a tournament held in Margao some years back,” she adds.
As for regrets, she has none. “I am content playing tennis ball cricket and will continue to do so as long as I enjoy it. Here, everyone is so kind and supportive. Coach Nilesh Naik, under whom I trained the most, has always been supportive. I learnt lot skills from him. Besides, all the members in the GTBCA are so helpful and cooperative, and it is only due to their constant support that we have been performing well,” she says.
About the most memorable moment of her career so far, Sharmila says: “The final against Jharkhand in the national championship held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh recently where I scored an unbeaten fifty and took three wickets to help Goa clinch the title. I was awarded player of the match for my all-round performance and was also declared best batswoman.”
Sharmila is thirty years old and just like any other marriageable girl hopes to find her life partner sooner or later. But right now her only concern is whether she will be allowed to continue playing after marriage. And in case the answer is no, she says, she would like to be associated with the game in any form.
“I love the game so much that it will be difficult for me to stay away from it. I don’t know whether I will continue to play after marriage. If no, then I would like to utilise my expertise for the improvement of tennis ball cricket in Goa. So, I would definitely like to coach in the future. Besides, I had been a manager for junior and sub junior teams, so even if I get a similar role to play I will take that with utmost pleasure,” she signs off.