No stranger to competitive sport, Nadia Gruny, a member of the USA national women’s team is an all-rounder with diverse sporting skills, having excelled at tennis, soccer, and now cricket. The right-hand batswoman and bowler has dedicated herself not only to the sport, but also to the cause of helping other women players in a myriad of ways on and off the field.
Nadia Gruny has represented the USA in the 2010 ICC Americas women’s world cup qualifiers against Canada and is helping to propel the USA national women to the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh, this November.
Newyorkcricket.com in an exclusive interview with all-rounder Nadia Theresa Gruny, asked her…
Why the interest in women’s cricket?
Why not? Just like many other Caribbean people, I grew up in a culture where cricket and football were our favorite pastimes and Brian Lara was our pride and joy. My interest began back in the 90s with the influence of Lara and the West Indies, and simply because cricket was running in my veins. I must admit though that I’ve been gifted with the talent to play many sports and so the enjoyment of playing is even greater.
How long have you been playing the sport?
I started playing cricket at about age 7, or at least that’s what my brother says. That was 20 years ago. I played in our backyard and on the street. I never considered playing cricket seriously because I was not aware that women played cricket and maybe if I knew, I think I would have been too afraid of the hard ball. Nevertheless, back then, I believed cricket was for my brothers and tennis was for me. I played tennis competitively for about 4 years and then football for about 6 years. When I graduated from college in 2006, I was certain that my days of competitive sports were over. Two years ago, my manager heard me talk about men’s cricket often and suggested to me that I start a female team. I was still afraid of the hard ball but her timely suggestion coincided with USACA’s first women’s national tournament and so I started the first female team in California and have not looked back since.
What’s your favorite role in the sport? Batswoman or bowler?
Batting and fielding. Batting and fielding are most natural to me. I feel like my years of tennis and football have taught me many things about footwork, positioning yourself, getting behind the ball, etc. The fundamentals are pretty much the same across sports.
Are you the only one in your family who plays cricket?
My two older brothers played cricket many years ago. They never stuck with it.
Do you feel that women’s cricket will really take hold in the USA, and if so, why?
I think that women’s cricket has a unique opportunity to take hold in the USA for a few reasons. 1) Cricket is very similar to softball and therefore softball players can transition to cricket relatively quickly; however, the softball players may never become our best cricketers but they will help us grow the sport 2) Cricket is not a contact sport. This will appeal to some athletes 3) The novelty of the sport in the US compared to its popularity outside of the US may add some latent appeal 4) The opportunities to advance and play at a national level are huge 5) Internationally, there isn’t a huge disparity among national teams and very few playing nations, which puts even the highest goals within reach for the USA team. For example, the first USA women’s cricket team was assembled in 2009 and in 2011 we are going to compete in the World Cup Qualifiers with teams like the West Indies and Pakistan.
What is the single most important thing needed at this time to get young girls as excited about the sport as young boys?
I am not aware of the activities and interest levels of young boys and girls but I would imagine that the girls should be incorporated into the school cricket sessions with the young boys. Basically, give the girls the same exposure to cricket in the schools just as the boys are receiving.
Do you think the sport should be introduced as a co-ed?
Sport in American schools, or be kept strictly along gender lines, boys playing separately from girls?
It should be a co-ed sport up to a certain age. The administrators know the age limit where no gender has the advantage on the other and so this approach should be utilized. Give the girls as many opportunities as possible to play. If there are enough girls to play a game, then you can separate genders.
Where do you see women’s cricket in the next ten years in the USA?
I believe that the USA women’s team at the very least would achieve ODI and Test-playing status in the ICC; however, I believe strongly that USA will make it to the India World Cup in 2013.
What role, if not as an active cricketer, do you see yourself playing in the sport in the next 5-10 years?
Wherever there is an intersection between my capabilities and the needs of cricket, I will be there.
What advice would you give a young girl interested in learning the sport?
I’d tell her that the women’s cricket movement in the US has just begun but she too can be a pioneer for the sport. Have your parents find a local youth cricket club to begin practicing. The cricket community is very small so once you begin at one club; someone will spread the word about you and provide support to help you get to higher places. Watch videos on YouTube and encourage your school to introduce cricket as an extra-curricular activity. If you stick with the sport, I guarantee that you will have a very rewarding experience.
What single piece of advice would you give USA cricket administrators regarding the development of women’s cricket here in the USA?
Please start by creating a committee or unit dedicated to women’s cricket. Our cricketing schedule has the potential to become busier than the guy’s!