There are many cricketers who impress with their talent, there are some who impress with their character, there are a few who impress with both. Hong Kong’s Ishitaa Gidwani, 19, is one of them.

A first-year student of Sports Science at Hong Kong University, Ishitaa spoke to us directly after a national team training session, a couple of days before Hong Kong’s women took on China’s at this year’s Hong Kong Sixes.

“Playing in the Asian Games was huge.”

My Dad is and was a huge cricket fan. Before cricket I was into so many different sports, tennis, basketball, football, swimming, badminton and maybe a few more. I think it frustrated my Dad, that I couldn't stick to one sport and that after about six months, I wanted to try out a different sport. I never understood cricket, or the people that liked it (like my Dad). Seven hours in front of a TV watching a ball being hit around which other people have to pick up!??! But Dad said why not I just try the sport just once, and if I don’t enjoy it, I can stop whenever I like. So I said, ‘OK, OK, I’ll try it.’ He put me into a program called Gappers (cricket for young kids – 5 years to 15 years) where I was the only girl. I started liking it, and things went from there I guess! Now there are 24 girls in the program.

Anita Miles saw me messing around and asked my Dad if I’d like to play for Hong Kong Cricket Club and he said “Sure, Ishitaa would love to.” And so I did and slowly, for more than the cricket really, I started liking it. It was the feeling of having so many new friends, and so many fresh experiences.

What I love is the playing. Drills, keeping fit, the practicing are all good but it’s the playing that I really like.

Cricket is so much more fun when you understand it.

Fitness helps you think better in the way that you’re not so tired that you forget to do things. It’s the silly mistakes that you hate doing and they happen most when you’re not fit.

Cricket’s a brilliant stress-buster. I’m a great believer in working hard and playing too. There’s a lot of Chinese kids at university who will be in the library from 10AM to 3AM but that’s not me. I really think that you shouldn’t just study, study, study. If there’s an exam I’m going to study for it. If there’s a match the day before an exam I’m not going to cram at the last minute. I’d much rather relax myself with cricket, having done all the work beforehand of course.

Cricket’s given me more confidence in life.

My first matches for Hong Kong were against Pakistan in Lahore about five years ago. They made 300 and we made 30. The difference then was that they’d played so much more cricket than us. The difference now is that they play against tougher competition than we do. So there is a gap between us but we do so want to be better, we do so want to be part of a World Cup qualifier.

Playing in the Asian Games was huge. To walk out there in front of thousands and thousands at the Opening Ceremony, the whole Games Village thing, yes, was incredible and made me realise what a privilege it is to play for your country.

When I saw myself on the big screen at the Asian Games stadium, running up about to bowl, it was really strange. And then when batting, seeing yourself look giant took a while to get used to for all of us. And then you think that it’s on international TV and a lot of people are watching you and the ground has the biggest crowd ever. And it’s not nice when thousands of people clap one of your wides but that’s cricket and it was an incredible experience to do it for Hong Kong. We underperformed, half our players were quite new to the game. I hope we’re at the next Asian Games in Korea. We’re all going to be much better.

It's now a lot easier for students in Hong Kong to learn about cricket, because coaching staff are now going into the local schools to promote cricket. Also in the women's team, half of the girls are Chinese which means their friends and families would hopefully find out about cricket through them. And then we have the Cricket Sixes in Hong Kong, which is a very fun and fast version of the game, and there is a lot of promotion of the event prior to the weekend.

Next Page | “I’m always wanting to learn new things.”