Destined to play cricket: Al- Khadeer
Mumbai, Mar 20: It took off-spinner Nooshin Al- Khadeer more than three years to go from 99 ODI wickets to 100. But the Gulbarga-born bowler is not complaining one bit. Al- Khadeer announced her retirement from international cricket after claiming her 100th international scalp in the third ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium. The 31-year-old made her comeback into the national squad after a two-year break and claimed Lisa Sthalekar’s wicket to reach the coveted three figure mark.
Nooshin spoke to bcci.tv about her love for sports and her journey in cricket.
On her retirement
I thought that this is the right time because I have been sticking around for a long time. It is always good for a cricketer to leave on a high note.
On whether she had planned it or whether she decided to announce the retirement when she got the hundredth wicket
I had planned after the first one-dayer [against Australia] that probably the ODIs [against Australia] would be my last [international games] so whether I get the milestones or not is irrelevant. So getting the hundredth wicket was the icing on the cake.
On what lies ahead
As of now I have decided to continue playing at the domestic level but it depends on how things work out. I haven’t planned as yet [...].
On what inspired her the most
Every time I walk out wearing the jersey [which has] India written on it; that inspires me the most. Because whenever I walk in I always walk in thinking that, this step [that] I am going to take, I want probably this one step of mine to win the game. We are 15-18 of us putting our heads together but then each one of us has to step in [and contribute]. Every step counts and I want that one step of mine to help India win.
On the beginning
My first series was the home series against England in 2002. In 2008 I couldn’t make it to the Asia Cup but then I came back for the Australia series in 2010. I played the home series against England and now again I have come back.
I was [always] into sports, I used to play all games. I have played my Under-16 Basketball nationals. I was more of a basketball player. [...] it was in my destiny that I had to play cricket.
On choosing cricket over other sports
It was because of my dad [that I took up cricket]. Dad had come down for a holiday; he doesn’t stay here, he had read an article regarding under-16 selections for the state. I thought probably he was joking when he asked me, ‘would you want to try out this sport?’ because I had never played cricket. I said, ‘I don’t mind trying that’. He said, ‘fine, we will go for the selection.’ When I went there I was immediately picked for the Under-16 [team]. I was 13-and-half [years-old] then. And since then I have been playing cricket. The first state I represented was Karnataka and I didn’t look back after that.
On her family support
My dad was a footballer for the Services, for Navy. So I do have a sports background. My mom herself was very motivating regarding sports because she knew I was good in that. Be it hockey or basketball or football. The encouragement that I got was initially because of my parents.
On whether and if she had to face challenges while opting to be a professional cricketer
When I started playing for the state in ’97, I first played for my Under-16 state [team]. I took the game as it came. I never thought it was a challenge. I was young; I was raring to go thinking that I could spend some time with my friends outside. There was no pressure. But, I think in ’99-2000 I realised that I am good at this game because when I am not doing anything I am performing. So I need to put in a bit to at least reach a level where people recognise me and that’s the time I worked hard for a year-and-a-half and was immediately picked for the Indian squad.
On her memorable moment on the field
My most memorable moment would be when I took a five-wicket haul against England in 2003 in New Zealand in the quadrangular that I think was my fourth game playing for the country and it was a national record then. It was a dream. A five-wicket haul is always a dream for a bowler and that was against England, a good side so that is going to be memorable for me. And also I think the World Cup number 2 position. When I close my eyes I still feel [the atmosphere], I can see the entire [scenario], the matches that we have played and how it has been. I think the Test series in 2006 has been very memorable for me, when we won the Test series against England in England. That has been the highlight of my career.
On her stock ball
I am good in a drifter, the ball which goes away. That is my stock ball
On her favourite cricketer
My favourite? A little different. [Anil] Kumble has always been my favourite although he is a leg-spinner. I see him as a role model, thinking that the desire [that] he had to represent the country and every time he walked in the centre to do well and [for] his team to do well. It really showed. I didn’t [get to interact with him] but that is okay.
On what she would have been if she weren’t a cricketer
I would probably have been a civil architect resting and earning a lot of money [laughs]. I had to switch from science to commerce just because I was selected for the country because I wouldn’t have [been able to] give a lot of time for my studies, so I thought I need to shift.