Sophomore Snigdha Paul plays for the USA Under-19 Women’s Cricket team

Photo+Credit%3A+USA+Cricket

Photo Credit: USA Cricket

Vaishnavi Josyula

Playing for your country is a Herculean task, but that’s exactly what sophomore Snigdha Paul accomplished. Paul played for the 2022 USA Under-19 Women’s Cricket team in Jan. 2022. 

An all-rounder, someone who bats and bowls, Paul said she started her athletic journey when she was 10. She attended a warm-up game before the World Cup with her parents and it inspired her to play the sport ever since. 

“I have taken part in Senior Nationals (a trial to the women’s seniors team) and I have taken part in many matches leading to it,” Paul said. 

The tournament pathway to qualify for the under-19 team started June 2021 and comprised inter-regionals (city versus city), regionals (Southwest versus West), and nationals (East versus West), where Paul played for Dallas, Southwest, and West respectively. 

“Last year, USA Cricket sent me an email stating that they selected me for the team,” Paul said. “It was my first time playing [for] USA Under-19.”

The Under-19 matches were from Jan. 24, 2022 through Jan. 28, 2022 at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Paul played against the Windward Islands’ Under-19 Women’s team, which was a combined team of a few islands together. 

“I received ‘Player of the Match’ for my first debut game and I also got ‘Player of the Series (USA)’ for the tournament,” Paul said. “We had local kids from the nearby schools watch us play and also parents from both the teams. Unless we were on the field, we had masks on. We followed all COVID protocols strictly. ”

Paul has been practicing cricket one to two hours a day with her father, who was also a cricketer. In addition, former international cricketer Asif Mujtaba (Pakistan) has coached her, who is also the head coach for the USA Women’s Under-19 team.

Besides her coaches, “I look up to Elise Perry in cricket, who plays for the Australian women’s team, and she’s been exceptionally good for multiple years, and she’s a really outstanding role model,” Paul said.

While playing for the country can be challenging and nerve-wracking, Paul said her teammates and family support and motivate her throughout the process.

“I deal with it as in, ‘I’m representing the country. I’m representing my club,’” Paul said, “I started playing cricket like a little girl who had a dream of making it big. I don’t want to disappoint her, so I play for that little girl. That calms my nerves.”

Despite the nervousness, Paul said she finds the downtime after a match relaxing, and enjoys taking pictures with her teammates and bonding with them. The sport has heavily affected her, she added. 

“It’s given me that ‘never give up’ personality, like if something goes wrong, you can fix it, and it’ll happen eventually in the future,” Paul said.

Balancing cricket with schoolwork can be challenging, but Paul’s teachers have been extremely understanding, she stated. 

On a school day, “I [have to] go to practice from 7:30 a.m to 10:00 a.m, and then attend school, and then I have practice again for softball from 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m, schoolwork [after that, and] then cricket practice from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m,” Paul said. On days before a cricket match, “You wake up for breakfast, you practice, and we have multiple team meetings to figure out what the day is gonna go like tomorrow and stuff.”

Outside of cricket, Paul said she enjoys organizing, creating DIY projects, and playing shortstop for the LTHS softball team. 

After high school, Paul wants to pursue “professional cricket,” she said. “If not, then I’d like to pursue softball full-time… [and] just be an athlete overall.”

Like with many people, the pandemic has affected Paul both positively and negatively, Paul said. 

“Multiple leagues and tournaments were closed down,” Paul said. “Many teams had to withdraw from the tournament because of COVID cases, so it affected [them] negatively, but it also affected positively as players had more time to practice.”

Despite the offsets caused because of COVID-19, Paul said she hopes to play a tournament in Houston in April. She also offered advice for aspiring cricket players. 

“Just do what you want, because I feel like many people don’t do what they like and they end up being miserable,” Paul said. “If you feel like playing a sport, if you feel like going to that get-together or something, just do what your heart says.”