Published: 27th March 2019
This auto driver's daughter from Bengaluru could be the next pace queen of Indian cricket
Nagma Rahman Sharieff tells about how her humble beginnings never stopped her meteoric progress into the world of cricket
Women's cricket in India hasn't been the same since Jhulan Goswami did what she did and made the gentleman's game accessible to pretty much any aspiring young girl. Nagma Rahman Sharieff, a 16-year-old cricketer from humble origins —her father drives an auto for a living — wants to be the next Jhulan Goswami.
Watching her steam in and bowl at her training academy, we're confident that she'll make it. Two months ago, she was the fastest bowler in the Under-16 Karnataka Girls cricket team. She is now putting her heart and soul into making it to the next level — which is why she has been practicing for over six hours a day at the Karnataka Institute Of Cricket (KIOC), in Bengaluru.
Bowling pace: Nagma bowls at 97-100km/hr. Like any other male cricketers, she also wants to bowl at a pace of 130km/hr (Pic: Pushkar V)
Nagma's love affair with cricket started when she was 14 — a precocious girl watching her elder brother Fazulla Sharieff, who is also a cricketer. She recalls how it began, "I watched as he played and won several gold medals for his fast bowling in the zonal matches. But I was not aware that girls also played cricket. I asked my father if I could also play cricket. Without a second thought, he agreed and brought me to KIOC."
In order to play for the Karnataka State Under-16 Girls cricket team, Nagma had to take a break from school and play zonal matches. "I took a break from my studies when I was in class IX, in 2018 and played several zonal cricket matches. Every time I went for practice or to play a match, I had to take permission from school. But at one point in time, attendance at school became a serious issue. My father would come and request the principal and they would allow me to write the exams but I was neither able to practice cricket nor concentrate on studies. That's why I decided to take a break and work on improving my bowling style and pace." Till date, she has played thrice for the Under-16 and twice for the Under-19 cricket teams. Now, she hopes to rejoin school and complete her class IX and X.
Role model: Nagma admires Jhulan Goswami, who was a former Team India cricketer who inspired millions (Pic: Pushkar V)
Nagma starts her day with warm-up exercises like jogging, stretching and bending. Nagma, along with her two siblings, spends her time at KIOC till 9 pm. Sometimes, the coach trains them by giving one-on-one classes. This increasingly happened when she was selected for the Under-16 team. Irfan Sait, who is the owner and coach at KIOC, spent not less than six hours a day honing her skills.
While the actual cost of training children to play cricket can be upward of Rs 40,000 per year, Irfan provides the facilities at KIOC free of cost for Nagma and her brothers Fazulla and Rizwan Sharieff. The fact that their father, Rahman Sharieff, earns less than Rs 200 per day, prompted this decision.
Karnataka Institute of Cricket is one of Bengaluru's more reputed cricket training academies and was launched in 1996. Mamtha Mabeen, Karun Jain, Vanitha VR, Nooshin Al Khadeer, Akshata Rao (USA Women's Team) are some of the star women cricketers from KIOC who have represented India
But what he lacked in hard cash he made up in sheer support. There were days when Rahman pasted a small pamphlet in his auto asking for donations and funds to help his children get into a coaching academy. It was during this time that a friend of Irfan's recommended admitting the trio. And the rest, is cricketing club history, "Nagma has the potential to play well and we spotted the talent last year. Even her brothers are equally talented. They are dedicated and work hard," he says.
Undoubtedly, Nagma has tried to perform well in every match. Despite the slumps and inevitable losses she never gave up. She says, "We lost two or three zonal matches last year. My performance was not up to the mark and I did not get selected. During such times, I did not lose hope, instead I would sit and think where I went wrong and ponder over what new techniques I must adapt to improve myself."