A look at the scorecard of the ongoing Women’s Cricket Under-19 One Day series shows that Hyderabad’s G Trisha bowled an astonishing spell of 3/9 in her 10 overs against Kerala. On the face of it, those are great numbers. But the scoreboard also tells you she opened the batting. An all-rounder.
In the next match against Goa, she got 2/9 in her quota of overs and batted up the order again. Against Karnataka, she took 4/18 and then scored 52 opening the batting. Consistent.
Trisha is also the vice captain of the U-19 team, and has the experience of having played at the U-16 and U-23 level for Hyderabad. Talented.
But here’s the deal: Trisha is also only 12 years old. She was born on 15 December 2005, the year India reached the final of the women’s World Cup for the first time. She still isn’t even a teenager. But she has played with and against players almost a decade older than her and held her own. Prodigy.
“I’ve been seeing her for the last four or five years whenever I go to my cricket academy in Hyderabad,” R Sridhar, the men’s national fielding coach and one of the coaches at St. John’s Cricket Academy told The Field. “Even when I am there at odd hours, I see her hitting the ball or doing some drills with her coach.”
“It quite amazed me at the time for a young girl coming from Bhadrachalam [a small town in Telangana] who is playing even U-23 for Hyderabad, which is a phenomenal achievement. I am very impressed with her every time I see her,” he added.
An early start
All of 5’3’ for now, Trisha she is already fast-tracking into big league. But her cricket training also began on the fast track. When she was three, she was already getting the feel of bat connecting with ball.
“When she was just 2-3 years old, she used to hold a plastic bat. She used to hit 1000-2000 deliveries daily, off a ball hanging adjusted to her height. As soon as she came from school, she would play the 1000 balls and then enter the house. We used to count and she would hit,” her father Ram recounted.
Ram used to be a fitness coach back in Bhadrachalam, but he quit his gym to move to the city for better cricket facilities. He has always been interested in all sports and wanted his child, son or daughter, to play cricket for India. Trisha, the only child of her parents, was therefore set on the path of sport very early.
When she was four years old, she started playing on the ground and she began improving rapidly.
“Apart from her prodigious talent, Trisha’s game sense, was remarkable,” her uncle Uday said.
Her skills were honed at the St. John’s Cricket Academy in Hyderabad, a place where captain Mithali Raj has practised as well.
She sometimes used to travel for matches with the boys as well and soon people began to take note.
“Hyderabad cricketers such as VVS Laxman and Raj, both have seen her in action and India captain Raj, who also made her name in international cricket at only 16, has given the youngster a kit bag and more,” her uncle proudly added.
Playing U-16 at 8
She took part in the open selection by the Hyderabad Cricket Association even before she turned 10. She played her first U-16 at only eight years of age and this is now her fourth season on the domestic circuit.
Her bowling is what impressed in the selection matches, where even seniors struggled against her leg-spin. When she batted, she scored the runs and didn’t give her wicket easily.
Ananya Upendran, a fellow player from Hyderabad, who has also played for India A, has been closely following Trisha’s career. “I first saw her when she was nine and even when we watched her play, we knew there was something special about her,” said Upendran told The Field.
She recalled an incident from an U-19 match last year where the then 11-year-old Trisha almost won the match single-handedly with her opening spell after Hyderabad had been dismissed for a paltry 100.
“For a girl at her age to take that kind of pressure and deliver such a spell was great,” she recounted.
‘Keep an eye out on her bowling’
Trisha’s unique, a round-arm action for spin has left even players at the U-23 level flummoxed. She bowls a tight line and is known to not give away many runs, as her figures show. Her uncle Uday says that her action is a natural one, nobody taught her how to spin a ball and because it is wicket-to-wicket and effective, nobody changed it.
But being different from that of a traditional leg spinner, her action drew quite a bit of criticism on the cricket field, with many saying that she didn’t have her basics right. However, the person who stood up for her and encouraged her to not change was R Sridhar. In fact, he insisted that her action should not be interfered with by the coaches.
“I told her coach and her father that if anybody wants to tell her anything about her bowling action, tell them to get back to me.”
“She bowls well... very good leg-spin, quite accurate for her age. She has a very good action, and her bowling is something I will be keeping an eye on,” Sridhar added.
Interestingly, Trisha started as more of a top-order batter who bowls but is now veering towards a bowling all-rounder often finishing her full quota of overs.
While this may seem like a lot of stress for a 12-year-old, the more the workload, the more she has prospered. To make her place among players almost a decade older than her is no mean feat.
Unparalleled work ethic
Trisha’s work ethic is unimaginable for a girl of 12. “She is on the field or training for eight hours a day. Her day begins at 4.45, from fitness to coaching,” her father informed,
Her school, Sri Chaitanya, is flexible when it comes to her academics. In fact, they enrolled her in the school only because they were willing to exempt her from regular class. She also has a private tutor.
But the main focus of her entire family is cricket. Her father’s ambition is that his daughter should play for India by 2020. Upendran also agrees that Trisha is sure to make it to the national team.
“The way she is practising and going she will make it to the Indian team soon, at what age I can’t say. But there is nothing to stop her,” Sridhar said.
Given Trisha’s current trajectory, it clearly does seem like a matter of when, not if.