Sindhuja Reddy Salguti bats during the 2016 Atlanta Women's T20 Tournament earlier this year.

Sindhuja Reddy Salguti bats during the 2016 Atlanta Women’s T20 Tournament earlier this year.

Sindhuja Reddy Salguti, has played in India as an opening batswoman and wicket-keeper for the Hyderabad Women’s Cricket Association in the Ranji Trophy Circuit from 2005 through 2015. In 2008 she was selected to a two-weeks Under-19 Level training camp, however, no tour resulted from the camp and it was cancelled. Recognized as an up and coming Indian women’s cricket star; a nation with over one Billion people, it was indeed an honor and privilege, and it is a pity Ms. Reddy never got the opportunity to represent India on its national women’s World Cup Squad, before migrating to the United States.

Thus, India’s loss was America’s gain, as Ms. Reddy almost immediately was representing the Northern California Cricket Association, Atlantis Cricket Club – NY, and the USA National Women’s Cricket Team.

In order to fully understand the extent of Ms. Reddy’s achievements and her distinguished journey of being selected to represent India and now the USA, one must first consider the popularity of the sport and its legends.

When we think about cricket and the nation of India, the first person that comes to mind is none other than the legendary Indian batsman and prolific scorer Sachin Tendulkar. There are only a few records he couldn’t achieve in his long and distinguished career. He played cricket with great passion and through his tremendous batting skills he won over millions of hearts. Even though he retired from cricket three years ago, he is still the reason why millions upon millions are such devout fans of him and the sport, and will endlessly watch cricket.

Perhaps even more astonishing than his record breaking career was his ascension to greatness against staggering and impossible odds.  The sport of cricket is the most popular sport amongst the Indian population. In fact, a recent India government survey suggests that there are roughly 52 million competitive cricketers in the country of India.  To rise to the top 15-30 selectees for India’s national team or the roughly 450 elite athletes that compete for all 29 states in the popular Ranji Trophy Circuit out of a total population of 1.2 billion is astounding and almost mathematically impossible.

Atlantis and Team USA's Sindhuja Reddy Salguti.

Atlantis and Team USA’s Sindhuja Reddy Salguti.

Despite such impossible odds, one young cricketer, Sindhuja Reddy Salguti, decided early on that she too wanted to rise through the ranks like Sachin Tendulkar in the sport of cricket.  Nothing could stop her from succeeding and becoming one of India’s top women cricketer role models. Sindhuja’s journey began in Hyderabad, where her strict father, setting high standards in cricket himself, demonstrated such a love for the game, both on and off the field.  His love for the game even inspired him to name his only son after former Indian cricketer, Mohinder Amaranth. By doing this, Sindhuja’s father felt it was his way of paying tribute to Amaranth’s prestigious Man-of-the-Series accomplishment in the 1983 World Cup Cricket Tournament in England, where India won its first ever Cricket World Cup.

For many years, the distinct roar of an annoying engine was Sindhuja’s alarm clock. A groggy 11-year-old Sindhuja reluctantly pulled herself out of bed to join her father, Spuradhar Reddy, and older brother, Mohinder Reddy, when they rode to the Hindi Maha Vidhyalaya Cricket Academy grounds in Hyderabad at 4:00 am.  Both Sindhuja and her brother were constantly indulged in the game of cricket. Sindhuja always aimed to make her father proud. The joy it brought her father when she would score and receive praise from her coaches – including widely known head coach, Manohar Reddy – was all the motivation she needed.

The sharp eye of another coach at the academy, former first-class cricketer Vijay Kumar, saw innate talent in Sindhuja. She was a natural and with Vijay being a wicket-keeper himself, he saw similar traits in Sindhuja as she often would hit the ball straight. Vijay Kumar referred her to Purnima Rau, a coach who groomed the Hyderabad Women’s Cricket teams and is now the Head National Coach for India’s Senior Women’s Cricket Team. In her tenure, Rau groomed and handed off two captains to India’s Women’s Cricket Team (Mithali Raj & Ghulan Goswami). Sindhuja’s father was delighted when she got hooked to the game. He was on cloud nine to witness his daughter’s love for the game continue to intensify just as his had throughout the years.

“In a way, I was forced into something and I wanted to deliver – especially for my father.  I always wanted to be a great cricketer.  I was good at it, I saw my father’s joy in it, and it was my interest. Cricket was something in which I wanted to push myself,” Sindhuja says with regard to her love of the sport.

Head coach Manohar Reddy soon took Sindhuja under his wing and the rest was history in the making. Her drive and persistent determination to do away with anything previously distracting her from solely focusing on cricket, paved the way for what was to come.

“Coach Manohar was a hard taskmaster. Early each morning as part of my training, he used to make me run, and at times, to make it even more interesting, he used to make me run in the evenings under the flood lights of the ground. Coach also wanted me at the ground well before sunrise. His idea was that when the sun comes up you should be ready for batting. When the bowlers come in, you can bat immediately and get extra time in the nets. I used to bat for two hours at a stretch. After practice, I would have breakfast at the ground and change at the ground for school. My dad used to then take me to school,” Sindhuja says.

After school hours, Sindhuja headed back to Hindi Maha Vidhyalaya Cricket Academy where Coach Manohar was waiting with the floodlights on for more training. She managed to spend an hour brushing up on her school lessons after which lights were out by 9:00 pm.

Like most women cricketers, Sindhuja also grew up facing boys in the nets, but coach Manohar was not one for mollycoddling. The boys, most of them age-group cricketers, were instructed not to hold back. The faster they bowled at Sindhuja, the greater the appreciation they received from the coach. Once when Sindhuja was unable to connect while trying to cut and pull using only a stump as a bat, the coach picked up another stump and hit her on her calf. If she was slacking during a catching session, the bowling machine speed would be hiked up, and the number of balls used, increased. If one of her hands turned blue, it was tied up behind her back and Sindhuja had to complete the catching drills with the other hand.

Sindhuja Reddy Salguti (left), accepting Player-of-the-Match award at 2016 Atlanta Women's T20 Tournament

Sindhuja Reddy Salguti (left), accepting Player-of-the-Match award at 2016 Atlanta Women’s T20 Tournament

“With all this happening at that time, I was angry with the coach. I used to think ‘how could he treat me like this? This is just too much!’ But today I understand and know that if I hadn’t played through the pain, I wouldn’t have achieved and accomplished what I have today,” Sindhuja says.

Sindhuja’s father, Spuradhar, recalls those tough days. “Coach Manohar and Sadanand told me, ‘Your daughter will play for India.’ I was in tears, tears of joy, and didn’t believe it was possible because Sindhuja was already about 14 years old. But the coach told me it will happen if the family and Sindhuja were ready to make sacrifices,” Spuradhar says.

By this time, Sindhuja, at the age of only 14, was included in the probables for Andhra Pradesh Senior Women’s Cricket. She was listed as a stand-by for the tournament, but her career choice was significantly influenced by her prodigious progress and the prophetic words of her coach, who had foreseen her wearing an India cap.

“I was around 15 or 16 when I became a part of the team that would be named the All India Sub Juniors Women’s Under 16 National Champions, and the very next year I led the team as captain with the ex-captains and senior cricketers playing under me. I didn’t know if I would do a good job. But fortunately, the seniors did listen to me and supported me,” Sindhuja says.

Celebrity status and acclaim had no bearing on Sindhuja’s outlook towards cricket. Chasing such aims was a capricious and divisive game she never embraced. The driving force that kept her motivated over the years was the sacrifice her parents had made.

“My father stopped all social gatherings and declined opportunities, because it would mean he would have to travel and be absent on various occasions which were held during late evenings. My mother would get up at 4:00 am and cook for me. She would pack my breakfast, snacks and lunch. Both of my parents had to plan their lives around my cricket career. Most of my homework was done by my mother. I wanted to excel in cricket because of the sacrifices my parents made. Even when the going got tough, I wanted to continue playing,” Sindhuja says.

In her youth, Sindhuja found it hard to feel at home in the cricket environment she found herself in. As a 14 year old girl, during her first Sub Junior National Camp in 2004, she seemed like a fish out of water because most of the players were older and some of them were already on the current national team, which made it difficult to relate to them.

“My debut series put a lot of pressure on me because my dad was expecting me to perform well. At the end of the day, I had to call my dad and tell him how I performed. If I didn’t score runs I would get a yelling. He would say things like, “You are an ‘average player’”. On a day when I scored a hundred, he would ask me how my wicket-keeping and batting was, or how many catches I had dropped.”

By 2007, Sindhuja was playing with the All India Seniors Team in the National One Day Tournament and also in the All India Juniors Women Tournaments. Being on both teams required a lot out of her as she had to take the lessons learnt from seniors and then teach her fellow team mates in the junior women’s team. Sindhuja become more of a leader and a trustworthy person in her team. She made it easy for the team to follow her lead and become more reliable.

During her tenure while in India, Sindhuja received many awards, achievements and accomplished all as a cricketer, such as being a part of the prestigious Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Ranji Trophy, representing the Hyderabad Cricket Women’s Association from 2006 to 2015. The only thing left pending was the opportunity to represent India on that country’s national women’s cricket team.

Here is a list of the teams Ms. Reddy has represented and her key national achievements during her competitive cricket career in India:
Teams Represented in National and International Play
• India Women’s U-19 National Team, 2008
• Hyderabad Senior Women’s team, 2007 –2015 (Ranji Trophy)
• Hyderabad Women’s Twenty/ 20 team, 2009 – 2015 (Ranji Trophy)
• Hyderabad Senior Two Day Women’s team (Ranji Trophy)
• Hyderabad U-19 Women’s team, 2007 –2009
• South Zone Under – 19 Women’s team. 2007 – 2008
• U-19 South Zone
• Andhra Pradesh Under-16 Women’s team
• Andhra Pradesh Senior Women’s team

National/International Achievements
• Woman of the Tournament – All India Women’s Under-16 National Championship, 2005
• Woman of the Tournament – South Zone Women’s Inter State Under-16 Championship, 2005
• Woman of the Match (Finals) – South Zone Women’s Inter State Under-16 Championship, 2005
• Captain for Andhra Pradesh Under – 16 Women’s Cricket Team at the Age of 15 and led the team to Victory in 2005 South Zone Inter-state Championship
• Named Captain for Hyderabad Under – 19 Women’s Cricket Team for South Zone Inter State Tournament, 2008
• Member of Under – 19 India, 2009
• Named in National Cricket Academy, 2011
• Named in Zonal Cricket Academy, 2011

Following her marriage, Sindhuja moved to the United States of America and has yet to stop playing cricket. She has already made her mark in the United States as a cricketer, representing a couple cricket clubs – one of them being Atlantis Cricket Club of New York.  She’s also won two prestigious national awards while representing Atlantis at the 2016 Georgia Women Cricket Association’s Annual Women’s T-20 Tournament (Best Wicket-keeper of the Tournament and Woman-of-the-Match awards).

Sindhuja has also accomplished her dream of playing cricket at the international level. She was recently selected to play for the USA Women’s National Squad. She was one of the elite players selected to represent the USA against a Marylebone Cricket Club of England touring team in Philadelphia, PA on September 11, 2016. The Marylebone women’s team is one of the best women’s team in the world. Ms. Reddy’s prestigious selection to the USA National Squad surely places her at the very top of her field, not only representing India, but now, also the United States of America.

It goes without saying that the bright and limitless dreams we have as children can really come true as it has for Sindhuja.  In the years to come, not only will one think of Sachin Tendulkar or Mohinder Amaranth when discussing the history and legends of the exceptional sport of cricket, but one may also be mentioning Sindhuja Reddy Salguti, now a USA national treasure.