Triumphs of Indian women cricketers inspires Abdul Bari Wahab to work with renewed zeal
Far away from the madding crowds, for him the hunt continues — the unbridled passion to look for genuine talent in women’s cricket, groom it into performing individuals. Well, this has been the story of Abdul Bari Wahab, coach to the women’s cricket team of Hyderabad since 2009.
“For me, helping these girls is a passion. And, I am really happy with the way they have performing in the last few years,” says a visibly content Wahab even as he basks in the wonderful achievement of his trainee and left-arm spinner Sravanthi Naidu, who took four for nine against Bangladesh in the T-20 international in Dhaka a couple of days ago.
“Sravanthi has the talent but it was difficult for me to get her motivated given the fact that she is making her third comeback into the Indian team after her Test debut in 2005, and that too at the age of 27,” explains Wahab, who was himself a cricketer of repute. Interestingly, the Indian team now in Bangladesh has six members from the city in different capacities - captain Mithali Raj, coach Purnima Rau, spinners Gouher Sultana and Sravanthi Naidu, manager Nandlal Vidya Yadav and video analyst Aarti Nalge.
“Cricket has changed a lot though the basics remain the same. There was an aura when we played and perhaps it was because of the fact that the best of Indian cricketers made it a point to play in all important domestic events including Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup, which was invariably the season opener,” feels Wahab. He has a special place in the Moin-ud-Dowla history for taking the first hat-trick in its history when he sent back the likes of Ajit Wadekar, Hanumanth Singh and Amber Roy.
“That is history. Right now, I am more focussed on helping women’s cricketers. Yes, it is a bit painful that there are no regular tournaments in the city. Yet the fact that we continue to produce winning performances at the zonal and the national level is a tribute to the grit, talent and determination of these girls,” insists the untiring coach.
What keep you going? “I can’t stay away from the nets even for a single day. Somehow, I have this passion which motivates me on and on. Yes, there were times when I pondered whether it was worth putting all these efforts. But, every time the girls come back with honours, I work with rejuvenated zeal," says Wahab, who owes a lot of his cricketing career to former Test star and now BCCI vice-president N. Shivlal Yadav.
Significantly, Wahab is more or less confined to coaching the State team and never gets the opportunity to work with the Indian team despite all his experience and proven expertise. “I don’t want to comment on things on which I don’t have any control. I am ready to accept any challenge and work with all sincerity. Right now, I am entrusted the job of Hyderabad women’s cricket and I am happy playing my bit in this regard,: he says with his typical no-nonsense attitude.
Not surprisingly, Wahab is hoping for Indian team to pull off a special performance in the T-20 World Cup in Bangladesh to give women’s cricket the much desired fillip in the days to come.