Cricketer Anjum Chopra reveals secret of success: Discipline, dedication, and drive

Ahead of the Indian Premier League in the UAE this weekend, former cricketer Anjum Chopra talks about how she began playing the sport, her successful innings, and her varied interests

The star-studded commentary panel for IPL 2020 includes Anjum Chopra, former skipper of the Indian women’s cricket team. Despite the pandemic, these are thrilling times for everyone involved in the game, and the excitement never ends for Anjum, who has always been passionate about cricket. Even current restrictions like bio-bubbles, social distancing, and the fact that no one will be allowed in the stadium has not diminished the fervour that surrounds the game.

Anjum Chopra

Anjum has a career spanning over 17 years. Apart from representing India at six World Cups, she is the first woman player to appear in 100 One Day Internationals (ODIs) and score an ODI century. She also holds the distinction of leading India in its first International Test series win and has been one of the most successful Indian Test skippers.

“Playing for India is always exciting because among a billion people, only a handful of cricketers get a chance to play for the country. I feel fortunate and proud to have been able to represent the country,” Anjum says.

Among many other firsts, Anjum was the first Indian woman cricketer to be awarded an honorary life membership of the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2016. Closer home, her achievements and contribution to the sport led the Delhi Cricket Association to name a gate at Feroze Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium in the national capital after her.

A Padma Shri recipient in 2014 and an Arjuna Award winner in 2007, Anjum co-authored a coffee table book, Women's Cricket World- a Journey from 1745-2013, and acted in a docudrama, Poor Cousins of Million Dollar Babies. The film bowled over critics, garnering acclaim at the Arnold Sports Film Festival in Ohio in 2011.

How it all began

“I have always been interested in sports. Sports runs in my family, and we got all the encouragement we needed to pursue careers in sports,” Anjum says.

Her father is a golfer and her brother plays cricket and has represented Delhi state in Under-17 and Under-19 categories. Her uncle was also a cricketer, and her grandfather used to be an athlete and cricket commentator.

“In my home, all my family members used to play cricket in the backyard. That’s how I began liking the game as well and started playing cricket,” she recalls.

A student of Delhi Public School and St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, Anjum went on to acquire an MBA degree in Human Resource and Marketing.

A woman of many interests

Anjum Chopra is also a motivational speaker and author

Besides being a cricketer, Anjum is also a motivational and corporate speaker. She has conducted training programmes for many globally recognised brands, and schools and colleges.

She walked the ramp with leading names of the fashion industry to promote women’s cricket and has also been a Goodwill Ambassador in South Africa to raise awareness for breast cancer for women.

“I am really thankful that I got different opportunities to do many different things during my career,” Anjum says.

About her myriad interests, she says, “I like to try new things, whether it’s being a cricket commentator, writing a book, or conducting training programmes. It helps me get to know what’s on the other side of playing cricket.”

In 2012, Anjum was appointed as a technical consultant to Cricket South Africa Women’s team, making her the first woman cricketer to receive an international appointment.

Apart from wearing many hats during her career, Anjum has also worked painstakingly towards elevating the importance of women’s sports.

All about women’s cricket

According to Anjum, playing cricket or any sport for India is an honour. “I won’t say that playing cricket during my days was difficult but yes, it is a much better time for any cricketer to be a part of the Indian team now,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to wear the colours of India. To have played for the country and captained the team was a landmark achievement for me.”

Anjum says she did not have any role model or cricketing idols but admired cricketers like David Gower, Michael Bevan, Sachin Tendulkar, and Mohammad Azharuddin, and learnt a lot by watching them.

Navigating the lockdown

Anjum says the lockdown was challenging for everyone as most of us had to do household work and manage careers. “But I managed to get a lot of time to myself and it was time well spent.”

Anjum does not believe that the pandemic will prove to be a setback for Indian cricket. “Once the pandemic is over, cricket matches will start once more. It will be like the good old days again,” she says.

The secret of success

What does she think other sportspersons and aspirants need to remember?

“The secret of excelling in sports is simple,” Anjum says. “You have to be motivated, disciplined, dedicated, relentless and have the passion and the drive to succeed. Staying fit and healthy is also very important.”

When asked about her future plans, she replies, “I plan to stay in the world of cricket in whichever capacity and whatever way possible.”

May she continue to have a good innings!

Edited by Teja Lele Desai


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