By John L. Aaron
Like a Pride of Jaguars, a group of women cricketers from Canada and the USA will transform into predators in search of prey this weekend in Ontario, Canada. The combination group of players from the USA and Canada, aptly named JAJA Jaguars; after searching for a name for the team, decided on the initials of the two principal organizers, Julie Abbott (CanAm United) and John Aaron (Atlantis Cricket Club – NY). The JAJA Jaguars includes three USA national players and feature a few cricketers new to the women’s cricket circuit in Canada and the USA, but who are very familiar with the sport of cricket.
The inaugural women’s T20 tournament billed as the Canada Day Cricket Cup 2018 will take place June 30-July 2 at the Ross Lord Park, in Toronto, Canada, and hosted by Tranzac Cricket Club, Toronto District Cricket Association (TDCA), Alberta Strikers Cricket Club, Cricket Ontario. TDCA is the largest cricket league in Canada. The tournament will feature four teams, including the JAJA Jaguars, Alberta Strikers, with players from Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Calgary, and two Cricket Ontario XIs, comprising players from Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Each team will play three matches in a round-robin format, with the two top teams facing off in the championship final and the remaining two playing for third-place.
Here are player profiles of some of the players on the JAJA Jaguars squad, and in no particular order.
DELKASH SHAHRIARIAN (Capt.)
Among those representing the JA JA Jaguars are, Delkash Shahriarian, a USA national player who will skipper the team. Delkash, a wicketkeeper batswoman has captained a number of teams including Rustom Baug Women’s Cricket Club in Mumbai, India, CanAm United, New Jersey Starlets, Tri State, Legacy International, and a New York Women’s XI. She was born in Mumbai, India and admires MS Dhoni the renowned Test, ODI and T20 Indian wicketkeeper batsman. Delkash likes cricket because, “…it is a thinking team sport. It takes great mental and physical strength of 11 players to succeed. I like the challenge of captaining a team, because I am thinking about not 11 but 22 players, and how to come out victorious.”
No stranger to sports, Delkash has competed at the State championship level in India in track and field and basketball.
Ragini Kumari is a right-handed middle-order batswoman and off-spinner who admires Virat Kohli and Indian woman’s cricket captain Mithali Raj for their batting prowess, while her preferred bowlers are Mujeeb-ur-Rahim and Shane Warne. Not bad idols at all. New to hardball cricket, Ragini has adapted very well because she has been playing the sport for quite some time, and is very active in outdoor sports like tennis and biking. Having been born in a “cricket crazy nation”, according to her, she has helped, “develop my love for the game in my early childhood days while playing with my siblings. I love cricket as it is (too) dynamic and unpredictable.”
Right-handed middle-order batswoman Grace Singh is very excited about the tournament. Born in Guyana, Grace has been playing cricket from age five with her brother and friends. The Atlantis Cricket Club – NY player loves cricket, “…because it’s a game of strategy and very competitive, also because I feel a lot of women players are being given more of a chance to play the sport, now.”
An admirer of Marizanne Kapp, the South African women’s all-rounder, Grace is musically talented, playing the guitar, piano and bass drums.
SONALI VIG CHANDOK
Sonali Vig Chandok, is a middle-order batswoman who was born in India and has represented the India A team against New Zealand. Playing cricket for two decades, Sonali brings a wealth of cricketing experience to the JAJA Jaguars having played in the West Zone, Mumbai, Punjab and Western Railway tournaments. In addition, she has worked in Mumbai as a professional Level A cricket coach for school clubs and the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Currently the captain of the West Vancouver Cricket Club, Sonali plays in the British Columbia Mainland Cricket League, and says, “Cricket has been one of the most important parts of my life. It has taught me discipline of mind and body, how to interaction with seniors and juniors, and most importantly the sport did provide me employment with Indian Railways.”
Sonali’s most admired cricketers are Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his cricketing acumen, tenacity and fitness, and Mithali Raj for her determination, work ethic and leadership qualities. The right-arm off-spinner is anxious to share what she has learned playing alongside female cricketers like Diana Edulji, a former Indian Woman Test cricketer and a player considered to be the greatest Indian woman cricketer of all time, and Sandhya Agarwal, another Indian women’s crickete great who was born in the same City and State in India as Sonali – Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
Current a USA national and Atlantis Cricket Club – NY player, Sugetha Chandhrasekar is an all-rounder who prefers to bat in the middle-order, but can also provide pace and spin bowling. The all-rounder has been playing backyard cricket since her childhood, and never received any formal cricket coaching advice until she was 14 years old. The now 27-year old has represented Tamil Nadu State and most recently the USA national women’s team in Australia.
The Chennai, India cricketer describes cricket as a complex and addictive sport, and that’s the reason she loves it so much. Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni are two of her favorite cricketers. Asked to describe one thing she would share with her teammates and the public, she replied, “I get quite competitive when people underestimate me.” Enough said!
Laura Jones was born in Canberra, Australia, and as such is no stranger to the sport of cricket. Now in her third season as a cricketer, the middle-order bat has represented CanAm United and Meraloma Cricket Club in British Columbia; a part of the largest amateur sports club in Canada. A right-arm medium pacer, Laura admires Ellyse Perry for the player’s great attitude and being such a fantastic role model for younger players.
Asked why she likes cricket so much, Laura said, “The sport is a great combination of tactical details, varied athletic requirements, and specialized skills.” Laura loves artichokes and admits to being bad at arithmetic. The JAJA Jaguars is however counting on Laura, and not to choke.
Having played gully cricket as a child, then hard ball cricket in college, before taking a 15 year break from the sport, Tanvi Vaidyanathan, a right-arm medium pacer and lower-middle order batswoman, has represented Madras University at cricket, as well as her Tamil Nadu District team, before playing in British Columbia and for CanAM United.
An admirer of South African Marizanne Kapp, Tanvi started playing cricket, “…to prove to the boys that, girls can play cricket too.” Addicted to the popular TV show Gilmore Girls, The Chennai born Tanvi admits to watching every episode at least once every year.
A native of Trinidad & Tobago and a huge fan of the world-renowned cricketer Brian Charles Lara, Chelsea Douglas started playing cricket at age 19 and has represented the twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago at the Under-23 level in women’s cricket.
A left-handed top-order batswoman who now makes New York City her home, Chelsea has represented both Atlantis Cricket Club – NY and CanAm United. She’s a part-time wicketkeeper who describes herself as an “aspiring pace bowler.”
Asked to describe her love of the sport, the 5’ 9″ cricketer replied, “I love the game of cricket because it brings people together, it’s fun and challenging at the same time.”
We will be looking to see if she can channel the stroke playing of Brian Charles Lara in this weekend’s tournament.
Watching cricket games and playing backyard cricket is what inspired Kishani James to pursue the sport. A right-arm medium pacer and a right-handed middle-order batswoman. Kishani, born in Sri Lanka where cricket is of course very popular, so it was hard for Kishani to avoid playing the sport.
She has represented Meraloma women’s team in Vancouver, Canada and says she’s pretty new to leather ball cricket. However, with inspiration from renowned players like former Sri Lankan skipper Sanath Jayasuriya, one of her favorite players, how could she go wrong?
The Sri Lanka native is goal-oriented and says, “My goal this year was to represent a team in professional cricket. I am on the verge of crushing that goal by taking part in the Canada Day Women’s Cup. We hear you Kishani and know you are even closer than you think.
From Buffalo, NY comes Jyotsna Dixit who has been playing cricket for as long as she can remember. Buffalo may not have much in terms of cricket happening in its neck of the woods, more so women’s cricket. However, that did not deter Jyotsna from seeking her own opportunities to pursue her love of the sport. She hooked up with the University of Buffalo cricket squad and has also been involved with the Scarborough Cricket League for the past two years.
Born in India and raised in Buffalo, NY, the right-arm all-rounder who plays with Tranzac Cricket Club in Canada looks up to Sachin Tendulkar and AB de Villers for inspiration, and her father and brother for training. She says, “Cricket has always been a huge part of my life and I am very excited to play for the JAJA Jaguars in the Canada Day Women’s Cup next weekend.”
With a voice that’s as silky as liquefied gold, Swati Mishra has already established herself as a Bollywood singing sensation with her own YouTube channel. However, the right-arm opening medium pace bowler’s passion for cricket is fast earning her a reputation off the singing stage.
The USA national woman cricketer has also represented CanAm United, Bazooka Assassins men’s team, and Atlanta Pearls on the women’s cricket stage. Born in India, she has been playing cricket from a kid, and like so many players from that part of the planet, cricket is a part of her DNA. In expressing her love of the sport, she said, “I love the technicalities, the drives, and the swings. There is so much beauty in the game!”
Swati’s favorite cricketers are Zaheer Khan and Sachin Tendulkar, and she’s not shy to admit that she is a professional Bollywood singer and whose You Tube Channel is one of the Top 10 most viewed YouTube channels in all of India. A feat accomplished within the first six months of it being launched. No ordinary feat. We anxiously await what she does with the ball on the cricket field.
She grew up playing tennis, representing her school at the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Nationals in India. Ritika played tennis for about eight years before moving to the USA in 2014.
The recent convert to leather ball cricket admires Indian cricket star MS Dhoni, and admits that in cricket, she loves, “the team spirit generated by the sport, as compared to an individual sport such as tennis.” The health and beauty industry entrepreneur is also a mental health advocate and a big Bollywood movie buff.
Born in Kolkata, India, Kiruthika Subramanian was interested and coached in cricket since age six, with the encouragement and support of her parents. The right-arm medium pacer represented her native India and was selected for the 2000 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. Primarily an opening bowler, Kiruthika usually bats three down in the order.
The motor sports enthusiast has represented her home State of Pondicherry as its skipper and South India, which comprise four States, as well as West Bengal Under-14 boys and girls league. The part-time wicketkeeper is an admirer of Sachin Tendulkar, and says, “I am from India and cricket is played in every corner there. I really do not have a better reason for liking cricket.”
Kiruthika loves racing motorcycles and cars at the amateur level, saying, “It’s just out of a passion for driving. I still do it about once a year.”
A right arm medium pace bowler Juhi Patel played nationals in India while in the 9th Grade and was selected to play with an English County club, however, she migrated to the United States and thought her dream of ever playing cricket again was over.
Juhi was born in Killa Pardi, Gujarat, India, and no doubt exposed to the sport at an early age with dreams of playing for India’s national women’s team. According to Juhi, “I always asked my brother to find me a girls cricket team with which I could play. Now, I am really thankful to him and Delkash Shahriarian for this wonderful opportunity, as I finally have a chance to play cricket again, and go with a career I always dreamed of.”
An admirer of Sachin Tendulkar and Mithali Raj, Juhi suffers from asthma, but that has not deterred her from playing cricket with a full heart.