Batting on a sticky wicket
Jyoti Yadav has cleared the Sponsorship Trophy trials for cricket organised by DLCL that comes under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. But, the daughter of a daily wage labourer in Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh, is not sure she will attend her first T20 match to be held at New Delhi on January 15, 2023, as she may not be able to afford it.
Brijendra Dubey 31 Dec 2022 11:35 AM GMT
Ahi Tiwaripur (Mirzapur), Uttar Pradesh
A string cot at one end serves as the wickets. From the opposite side of the small patch of empty land, outside a house, a boy prepares to bowl his first ball to his older sister, Jyoti Yadav, who takes her stance with her cricket bat.
Jyoti, a 19-year-old resident of Ahi Tiwaripur village in Mirzapur district has qualified in the trials for the Sponsorship Trophy organised by Delhi L'il Cricket League (DLCL). The trials were held earlier this year on June 11, 2022.
Jyoti has to go to Delhi for her first T 20 Match, to be held On January 15, 2023, but is wondering how. "I do not have the money to buy my cricket kit," the 19-year-old player told Gaon Connection.
When she was successful at the DLCL trials, she thought she could consolidate that by attending a cricket camp in Prayagraj district, about 100 kilometres from her village. "I recently went there to be coached by coach Shefali Shanu. But I could not pay the Rs 4,000 rent for my room, and the further Rs 1,000 I had to pay for registration," she said with sadness in her voice. "I caught the night train and returned home," she added.
While Jyoti dreams of playing national and international cricket, her father Kashinath Yadav's face is lined with worry. He is a daily wage labourer.
"I don't know how I will send her to Delhi for the match. I have no money to spare," he told Gaon Connection. He said that Jyoti passed her 12th standard about four years ago, and he still owes her school Rs 4,000, which has resulted in the school not issuing her marksheet. Kashinath and his wife Manohari Devi have six children — five daughters and one son.
Even the bat Jyoti plays with is a hand me down from an acquaintance from a nearby village. "He gave me an old bat he had four years ago, and I have been using that ever since," the teenager said. After the harvest, Jyoti said she uses the empty fields as her pitch. And, when the crops are growing, she clears a patch of land near her house and plays with her younger brother.
While she always had a passion for cricket, the journey has been always fraught with want. As a daily labourer, Kashinath Yadav earns about Rs 350 a day, that is the day he finds work, he said. He is the only earning member. He helps as a construction labourer. The family owns no land.
But that has not stopped the young girl from dreaming of being a part of international cricket, and she practises for hours every single day.
"I have grown up playing cricket and never cared that I was playing with the boys because no girl in my village played cricket. I also spent hours watching cricket matches on TV in other people's homes as we could never afford a television," Jyoti told Gaon Connection.
"The owner of a mobile shop in my village, Birendra Kumar Rao, gave me a mobile free of cost so that I could watch games on it and keep track of trials and cricketing camps I could take part in. He said I could pay him for it once I became a famous cricketer," Jyoti said.
She learnt about the DLCL trials from national cricket player, Gaurav Bind who is also from Uttar Pradesh in Bhadohi. "He told me that the trials were starting in Delhi and I had to register for the tryout," Jyoti said.
Jyoti reached Delhi for the trials on June 11, 2021 where she played just three overs but caught the attention of the people who were watching her play, and to her delight, she was selected.
"A lot of those present there asked me where I had trained and were surprised when I told them I had no formal training in the game, but had learnt it by myself back home," Jyoti laughed.
"Our daughter who plays cricket in the fields has reached as far as Delhi," Manohari Devi could not hide the pride in her voice. "I remember trying hard to stop her from playing cricket with the boys in the village, but she refused to listen," the 40-year-old told Gaon Connection.
Manohari Devi also worried about how Jyoti's ambition could be kept alive with their meagre resources. "It is difficult to keep the six children fed and clothed on a daily wage. How can we afford to keep Jyoti playing cricket," she asked.
Against all odds, Jyoti and her family are trying to raise money to be able to send their daughter for her first T20 match at New Delhi. But as of now, she has still not been able to afford a cricketing kit, shoes and her fare to go to Delhi.
In case you would like to help, you can contact Jyoti Yadav's father at +91-956-970-6743 and donate using following banking details: IFSC code: IDIB000J563; bank account number: 22032846248.