It is just the beginning, great things to follow, says Biju George
Almost a fortnight ago, the world of sport witnessed a revolution in the making as the young and fearless Indian women's cricket team stepped out for one last time at the Mecca of Cricket for the summit clash of the ICC Women's World Cup.
And, just as I am about to sit and pen down this piece, there is an array of emotion that takes over and drives me straight into nostalgia. The Home of Cricket testified pure sporting drama as the Indian eves endured a dramatic collapse and fell agonisingly short of carving their name in the record books.
Although the world came tumbling down for the team and probably the millions of people glued to their televisions sets, the sadness and the despair of the defeat soon paved the way for immense gratification and rejoice as this team fought all the odds to become a dominant force in this iconic tournament.
When Mithali Raj sojourned with her young brigade to the northern hemisphere, not many people gave them a chance even to reach the final four stage of the prestigious competition. Despite faltering twice in the league stages of this showpiece event, there was one thing that beckoned this team; the sheer passion and determination to bounce back after being pushed to the walls.
With a masterclass from the skipper in the virtual quarter finals against the White Ferns and the hurricane innings from Harmanpreet Kaur in the semi finals, the team stormed into the final frontier of their fairy-tale run. The loss notwithstanding, 23rd of July 2017 will arguably go down as the most celebrated day in the history of Indian women's cricket.
While the team were scripting history, en route their journey, they showcased glimpses of their exemplary fielding skills. And, the due share of credit for this resurgence on the field should be given to one of the most renowned coaches in the domestic circuit, Biju George.
The undying passion for serving this beautiful sport and the zeal to contribute to the betterment of the game marked the beginning of his illustrious career. After plying his trade with the India Under-19 team and the Kolkata Knight Riders, he entered the unknown world of women's cricket with nearly two decades of experience at the local level.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the man behind the athletic fielding abilities of the girls reflects on his journey through the World Cup. "It was absolutely brilliant. Honestly speaking, I was a bit apprehensive about the fact how women's cricket works but once I joined the camp, things were very different, he said.
Elaborating on his initial days with the team and his equation with the head coach, he further added, "Tushar is a brilliant coach, and he had given me the liberty to express myself which enabled me to work with a lot of freedom".
Despite his services being acquired only two weeks before the scheduled departure of the team, he worked on the small details in the art of fielding at a camp in Mumbai which was held prior to the World Cup.
Providing insights into his training patterns, he says, "We focussed a lot on direct hits and flat catches. Also, for enhancing our fielding at the boundary ropes, we worked on cutting the angles in the outfield which helped us in restricting the opposition". The drills chalked out by him worked wonders for the team as they affected the most number of run outs through the competition, giving the team crucial breakthroughs at important junctures in certain games.
While the Indian team mesmerised millions of people with their scintillating performance throughout the tournament, the collapse in the run chase at the final hurdle stunned their supporters. And, most of the fans could hardly believe the scenes that transpired at Lord's Cricket ground.
"We were pretty heartbroken, and everybody in the dressing room was crying. In fact, we had three English people in the change room, one liaison manager and two security officers who too were crying. This goes to show that the girls have won many hearts through their skills and the way they carried themselves on the field", he revealed.
However, the painful loss did not deter the Indian fans and the board to give their stars a rousing reception back home as they did the country proud by being the perfect ambassadors of the game. "Although we fell short in the finals, the girls have won millions of hearts all across the nation with their stunning performances. And I feel this performance by the team is just the beginning of the great things to follow."
With plenty of accolades being showered on the ladies for their effort in this world event, like every fan of Indian cricket team, Biju too feels that the girls have earned this. "The reception back home was outstanding. And I believe the girls deserve every bit of it, in terms of the monetary gains and also the awards and accolades as they have worked tremendously hard to achieve this feat".
From fine tuning the bigwigs of world cricket in the Indian Premier League to nurturing the talent of Indian women's team, Biju has reaped massive dividends in the sport mainly due to his unconditional love for the game and his constant endeavour to contribute for the betterment of Indian cricket.
And, amongst the variety of achievements in his illustrious coaching career, the World Cup campaign would undoubtedly be the highlight.