Please accept my sincere apologies for keeping you waiting so long.
If the Women’s Premier League (WPL) could communicate, those would be its first words. Yet, Harmanpreet Kaur apologised for the hour-long delay in beginning her pre-match media ritual. Not long after, she was at her most candid in a news conference, detailing how the Mumbai Indians squad came together in such a short period of time, despite the fact that most of its nucleus was away at a World Cup.
The inaugural edition of the WPL kicks off on Saturday (March 4) at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, less than a week before the final of the 2023 T20 World Cup in South Africa, while the revolutionary player auction took place three games into the main tournament, at the risk of being a distraction. Veterans of the league cricket environment are better adept to blending into varied team scenarios. For the vast majority of others, it marks the beginning of something fresh and wonderful.
They spent their limited time together getting to know their new teammates through game evenings, team dinners, and intra-squad competitions. Harmanpreet, true to her character, addressed the domestic players to initiate conversations and set the precedent that their captain, no matter how old, is always approachable. Since she was a novice in the Indian dressing room, she learned this mentality from people like Jhulan Goswami [also the MI bowling coach and team mentor] and Anjum Chopra.
I’ve always believed that I should establish discussion with my teammates, Harmanpreet stated. I didn’t get much time to know about the players in our domestic circuit, nor I played a lot of domestics discover the type of cricket they love to play, the improvements they desire for.
“I spoke with Sonam Yadav, who performed admirably in the Under-19 World Cup, and tried to discover more about her. After two practise games, she wanted to know how she bowled and what I thought of her bowling. Dhara Gujjar, too… “With so many young females approaching and asking so many questions, conversing with them felt amazing.”
While there is no doubt that having an Indian at the helm will be the “biggest benefit” for some of the domestic talent, the captain advises her MI teammates to step outside of their comfort zone in order to learn and adapt. To that aim, Harmanpreet highlighted how even international players are looking to cricket to bridge the divide.
“Some players don’t speak English, but they give it their all… All of our foreign players recognise this and are working hard to put our young players at comfortable so that they can communicate more effectively. We gained a lot of confidence in the practise games because… during the battles, we were able to close (the communication gap).
“I realise we don’t take these things seriously. Yet, as coworkers, when you communicate effectively, you will always perform well. We were able to see how our domestic players would connect with our international stars during the practise games. They were also pretty courteous, going out of their way to speak with our younger players “According to the 34-year-old.
In terms of fresh challenges, Beth Mooney’s first regular captaincy tenure coincides with a highly anticipated, and thus high-stakes, competition that has everyone’s attention. Despite the fact that the majority of the World Cup-winning Australian team landed in Mumbai only a few days ago, Mooney has only had a few staff meetings and a team meal before pre-match training to get to know the players at her disposal. ‘It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,’ she admits, admitting that captaincy was not something she had intended on undertaking. Yet, she is excited to get started, much like her former teammate Rachael Haynes, who is also a first-time head coach.
“It certainly wasn’t on my radar,” Mooney said of the position of leadership. I was just happy to be a part of the auction and to be picked up by a club when my name was called. ‘We’d prefer you to do it, and we’re delighted if you want to,’ said Mithali [Raj, team mentor and advisor]. So please notify us’. We both agreed that the time had arrived for me to test myself in cricket after a few meetings with Rachael [Haynes, head coach]. Rachael Haynes is a name I recognise. To be able to collaborate so closely with her… I trust Rach and her judgement “According to the 29-year-old.
Gujarat Giants, like most others, started their preparations in Bombay, but only with their domestic pool and those who were not in South Africa at the time. That was before four Australians arrived, including multiple World Cup champions. Mooney recognised that it could be “intimidating,” so he followed Harmanpreet’s lead and met his colleagues in person. The Australian superstar is a first-time captain, but she knows what she owes to the system that has entrusted her with the top job in the midst of some inexperienced minds.
It’s just about knowing that these tournaments aren’t won and lost in the first couple of games. We’ve seen teams all over the world, including here in Australia, lose momentum quickly in a tournament if they suffer a couple of losses. But, gaining momentum is also essential. But, in my opinion, the best way to achieve it is to remain calm under pressure, execute your skills, and always make the risky decision.
That is something I will want to instill as much as possible in the group. I’d rather see someone try something they’ve been working on in practise and perhaps succeed than retreat back into their shells, especially with the bat. Similarly with the ball – if they need to try a change-up or a slower ball with the game on the line, they may miss slightly, but the fact that they tried and nearly performed their skill goes a long way towards getting it perfect the next time if it didn’t work the first time for us. She arrived at a decision.