Mahika Gaur on balancing an international cricket career
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During the Thailand Women’s T20 Smash in 2019, the Reading-born teenager made her international debut for the United Arab Emirates.

When Gaur was six years old, her family took her to an IPL game in Jaipur to watch Rajasthan Royals v Delhi Capitals.

When we returned to England, I would try to bowl like them in the garden,” says Gaur.

I joined a nearby club because my dad said I was rolling my arm correctly and not chucking the ball.

When Gaur moved to Dubai in 2014, she was unable to find a cricket club and turned to badminton instead.

I lost my first badminton match 21-3, 21-3, and that’s when I decided it wasn’t for me.

We would pass the International Cricket Council Academy in Dubai on our way to training for badminton, so we decided to go in and see the UAE women training.

It all started when they asked me to bowl to the captain of the UAE women’s team. I kept bowling full tosses and she was defending them.

With four wickets so far, Gaur has made an impression on her team-mates, coaches, and commentators in The Hundred this year.

I was on the team last year, but didn’t play. This year is different because I am in the squad. I have really enjoyed it. It is a great group, and they have made me feel comfortable,” she says.

“I have had a lot of support from our captain and coaches. They have allowed me to bowl without fear, and I have really enjoyed it.”

The first thing people notice about Gaur is her height, which she shares with her father, who is 6ft 4in. In women’s bowling, tall left-arm swing bowlers are rare.

According to Alex Hartley, who recently announced her retirement from cricket, Gaur offers something different because she is left-handed and 6ft 2in. The bounce from her height is awkward, but she swings the ball a lot.

She relies on her swing and pace because she is a young player. As a batter, you want to get after her early and put her under pressure.”

She has a really nice action. I’m really impressed with her,” says England’s swing bowler James Anderson.

The initial signs are great, but she still has a lot of room to improve. She swings the ball back from that height and it’s extremely difficult to play her.”

Gaur considers Anderson to be one of his heroes. It’s obvious he’s the GOAT [greatest of all time], so I look up to him a lot.

With her England call-up, Gaur is already following in her idol’s footsteps.

The morning of our game against Trent Rockets, I was late for breakfast when head coach Jon Lewis sent me a text asking me to call him.

“I inhaled my breakfast and came back thinking it would be about how I performed.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about playing for England, so I didn’t know what to say when he told me.

The goal of playing for England has always been a goal of mine, and I had hoped it would happen in the next four or five years, but I never imagined it would happen so soon.

My parents were really happy when I spoke to them. They had just returned from Dubai, and now they want to see me perform.”

Besides gracing the field, Gaur is also finishing her A-levels, studying biology, psychology, and math. In the future, she hopes to study management at university.

“It has been really hard, especially this year, because there have been so many changes,” she says.

“I have become more disciplined. If you have no choice but to play cricket or study, you waste less time. However, I do get exhausted.”

Currently, there are no South Asian women playing for England, and Gaur hopes her inclusion will increase representation and inspire other young girls.

There should be more role models now for young Asian girls in England so they feel like they can get involved in the sport, and hopefully we’ll see more South Asian women on the team in the future.

The squad has made me feel super welcome, and I want to act as a role model for them.”

Gaur expects a Bazball-esque performance from England against Sri Lanka in their white-ball series.

“We’ve got our own way of being fearless,” she says.

I really enjoyed the way the coach spoke to me. I felt no pressure. We just go out and express ourselves.”

The team expects us to make mistakes in order to improve.

For my bowling, I used to be very particular about it, but lately I’ve just been letting it happen. I think we can apply that to life as well.”

Gaur used to imagine herself bowling in an England shirt before she went to sleep when she was young. The dream will become a reality this month.