Pitch Perfect: Veda Krishnamurthy

Veda Krishnamurthy is taking the great leap forward in the field of women’s cricket and is also the face of Karnataka Women Achievers’ Awards

BY NAMITA GUPTA
Photography PIXAS STUDIO
Styling TEJASWINIKRANTHI
Makeup & Hair SUNANDA KUMARI
Concept & Direction SPOORTHI VISHWAS

She was destined to make her mark on the cricket field. She started playing cricket with her family as a kid and soon Veda Krishnamurthy realised that she was head over heels in love with the sport. She decided to give it her all and moved to Bengaluru at the tender age of 12 when she found her calling. At 25, she’s one of the most sought after cricket players in the Indian women’s cricket team and is raring to go. Veda speaks to RITZ Magazine on how she fulfilled her dream of being a cricketer and her future plans ahead.

Where did you study? When was your first tryst with cricket and what was the turning point?

I was born and brought up in Kadur, Chikkamagaluru district, Karnataka and stayed there till the age of 12. I used to play with friends, family and neighbours. It was almost like a daily ritual for us. We would come back from school and play cricket every single day with a soft ball. We didn’t have a proper pitch and would play on a cement ground without any proper sports gear. Then one day, one of our friends got a leather ball and for the first time we played with it. That day when I played with the leather ball for the first time, something got into me and I wanted to play cricket seriously. I told my dad that I wanted to go to Bengaluru to learn cricket. My parents were very supportive and that’s why I got lucky to have started learning from a very young age. I was very sporty and used to play karate and would participate in all the extra-curricular activities. My dad took special interest and agreed for me to move to Bengaluru. I moved to Bengaluru after completing my 7th standard and completed 12th standard from Cambridge School and then got admission into Mount Carmel College. But since I was more inclined towards cricket, my priorities had changed. After 12th I played my debut match for India and it wasn’t easy to continue studying full time as I wanted to focus on improving my game. I couldn’t continue with full time studies, so I completed my graduation at an Open University.

What attracted you towards the sport and how did you decide that this is what you want to do professionally?

I held my cricket bat at the age of three and used to play with my brother. At my house all of us used to play cricket almost all the time. I’ve literally grown up with it. Everyone used to get together and play cricket and it was always a fun family sport for all of us. That’s something that stuck with me even later and I just couldn’t live without it. I didn’t have a godfather and getting into cricket was a very impulsive decision. I left home at the age of 12 to learn cricket, stay in a hostel and was adamant saying that I won’t come back. I was lucky that I met another cricketer at Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) who wanted me to be her younger sister. She was Spoorthi Ramesh and she wanted me to stay with her instead of staying in a hostel. She didn’t even know me then, but we both struck a chord from Day One and I moved to her place in Seshadripuram. That time her parents were not at home. So her maid and I were at her place and when Spoorthi’s dad came back she told him that she wanted me to stay with her and he agreed willingly calling me his daughter from now onwards. Had they not agreed to keep or accepted me as part of their family then my dad probably wouldn’t have let me continue staying at a hostel. Spoorthi also played cricket for a while and stopped after her college. Mithali Raj was my idol in my growing up days and later I went on to play in the same team with her, both domestic and National teams.

What is lacking in women’s cricket?

I’ve been very fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time. I think I’ve got the right training and the right facilities so I have no complaints.

What were your challenges? How did you overcome them?

When you look at any sport there are hard times when you feel demotivated. The passion and love for the game was so much that I knew I had to rise up and move forward no matter what. I would tell myself that the best was yet to come and after a year or two I got serious when I knew I would start playing professionally and take it up as a full time career. I knew I could make it to the Indian team and I did. We were not under BCCI then. In 2006 it came under its wing and since then things have improved a lot. It has taken good 10 years to now sit back and know that you can play and make a career out it. There’s no insecurity financially, so we can concentrate on the sport without worrying about the money.

What is your daily schedule like? How many hours do you practice every day?

I put in almost an entire day of practice every day. I have my training sessions. Most of the time I’m at the ground and hardly take a break. These days the cricket season is on, so we are always at camps. We play for about seven hours and then again for a few hours. The coaches are good and we are treated very well in terms of training as well as given all the facilities required for the sport.

What have been the highpoints so far?

When I turned 17, I was the Vice-Captain for Karnataka team and I got a call for the Indian team and since then it’s just been great. The highpoint has to be the World Cup. We came out of nowhere and proved our worth to the world by giving tough competition. Being an underdog no one expected us to do so well and reach the finals. We got the recognition in our sport. Now people watch us very keenly. World Cup has been the turning point not just for me and my team but for the entire nation who is now talking about the Women’s Cricket World Cup too. I’m the third cricketer from India to play in the Big Bash; I secured a deal with the Hobart Hurricanes (WBBL) for the third season of the WBBL to join the duo of Hayley Matthews and Lauren Winfield.

What are your other passions and hobbies?

I love watching movies. I watch all the movies that release. I also got a call to act in one of the movies after the World Cup success, but I felt that I still have a lot more to achieve in my sport before I try my stint at acting.

You’re a young girl. How style conscious are you?

I’m not a fashion conscious girl at all. I wear anything and go anywhere. I have to be comfortable whenever I’m dressing up. I can be spotted even at movie theatres in a track pant and a t-shirt. Comfort comes first. For my photo shoots I rely on Spoorthi Vishwas and my manager.

You must have travelled across the world for your matches. What do you like to do on your travels?

I have been to India, West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka and all other cricket playing countries. It’s great to travel to different places, but we hardly get time to explore different countries whenever we go there to play matches. We hardly get a day to explore towards the end, and we are extremely exhausted by then and need to rest. It’s exciting but at the same time it’s also tiring. Some of my favourite places have been West Indies. I also love going to Adelaide in Australia. There’s a different flavour to the city every time. I live with my brother in Bengaluru and it’s great to come back and relax at home after all the matches.

What are your future plans?

I’m 25 and my dream is to play as much as I can and as best as I can for the Indian team and perform well every time I play. I was part of the Indian team to reach the final of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup where our team lost to England by nine runs. We were so close to the World Cup last time so my only dream is to win it for my country next time. We have T20 in November and then the next World Cup is in 2021 which is the one day 50-over World Cup. Of course there are many other matches in between that we keep playing.

How many followers do you have on social media?

256k on Facebook and 136k on Instagram.

You’re the ambassador for Karnataka Women’s Achiever’s Awards. Would you like to share something about your association with KWAA?

I’m happy to be associated with KWAA. It’s a big thing to acknowledge people from all the sectors and I should give credit to Spoorthi for recognising extraordinary women. I love the fact that there’s also a Best Mom award as mother is the one who sacrifices everything for her kids to excel in life. My mother and my elder sister Vatsala have sacrificed a lot for my success and I owe a lot to them.