Oh, My Ghosh! Will be the right way to describe the 19-year-old sensation of the Indian Women’s cricket team. After leading India to glory in the U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup, Richa Ghosh displayed a solid run of performances in the recently conducted Women’s T20 World Cup as well. Richa Ghosh is the only Indian to be included in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup team of the tournament. Richa Ghosh is slowly coming up as the new face of Indian cricket and is expected to reach major heights in the coming years. Let’s have a deeper look at Richa Ghosh and her journey in the sport of cricket.
Richa Ghosh: The new cricket sensation of Team India
Richa Ghosh is an Indian cricketer who has represented India at both the Under-19 and Women’s national teams. She hails from Bengal, where she made her first appearances in domestic cricket. Ghosh is a solid allrounder with an attacking batting style and an ability to move the ball both ways with her medium-paced bowling. Richa Ghosh’s cricketing journey began in 2011 when she participated in a talent hunt program in Bengal.
In 2011-12, Richa was given a chance to get involved in the talent hunt program set up by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) under the project headed by its former secretary Biswarup Dey. She took advantage of the opportunity and attended a coaching camp at the Bengal Cricket Academy in Kalyani, thus beginning her journey.
“She was so small then I had to stay with her there and help out with her daily chores. Like other girls of her age, she was extremely fond of chocolates, cold drinks, and chips. We had to make her understand why she should get rid of such junk food. None could miss her talent even then.” said former international and national selector Mithu Mukherjee, who was in charge of the project in Bengal.
Impressed by Richa’s all-around abilities – including pace bowling, batting as an opener, and being a useful wicketkeeper – Chaitali Basak, one of the coaches, wanted her to join the Bengal state team immediately. However, Mukherjee chose to hold off on this due to her young age. Richa went on to make her debut for Bengal the following season and was picked for the Bengal Under-19 squad when she was only 12 years old.
“She often used to stay in my apartment in Calcutta during tournaments and camps. There were times they put up at cheap hotels near Sealdah and also the Salt Lake stadium campus. It was tough, but she and her father never gave up,” said Mithu Mukherjee. A year after her initial Bengal debut, Richa managed to make it into the U-23 and senior teams. In 2018, she was honored by the CAB with the Women’s Cricketer of the Year award. While Mukherjee and former Bengal cricketers-turned-coaches Shib Shankar Paul and Charanjit Singh provided technical aid at the CAB, Manabendrababu focused on Richa’s mental conditioning.
The turning point of Women’s cricket in India
In 2017, the Indian Women’s Cricket Team had a memorable run at the World Cup, making it to the final against England at Lord’s. In the process, they garnered a lot of attention and admiration, despite narrowly losing in the end. This successful journey at the 2017 World Cup helped Richa as well, who by now was a more polished cricketer and had decided to direct her focus on batting and wicketkeeping.
“Everyone got interested and started following women’s cricket on social media, something that didn’t happen before. We were able to create an expectation… We could set an example before the younger generation which mattered a lot,” recalled Indian legend Jhulan Goswami.
Richa made her T20I debut in the tri-series in Australia before the 2020 T20 World Cup. Notably, she became the only World Cup debutant to have five or more dismissals and broke the record for most catches in an ODI inning by an Indian female wicketkeeper against Pakistan in Mount Maunganui in 2022.
“There was no doubt about her talent. But none can claim credit for her journey to the top. Technically she was always very sound and, at times, better than her contemporaries like Shafali Verma. Her backfoot play can match the best in the business. Playing alongside Jhulan Goswami also helped her,” explained Mukherjee.
Richa gained a great deal from when Shib Paul assumed the position of Bengal coach in 2019. She was always eager to uncover new techniques and better her performance. Richa was allowed to train and play at higher levels, and she worked hard on her bowling and batting skills. Shib Paul’s guidance helped her hone her wicketkeeping and fielding capabilities. As a result, Richa developed into an all-rounder who could make a strong contribution to her team in every department. In 2020, she was also named in the Wisden India T20I team of the year.
“She yielded enormous power in her strokes. I used to have separate sessions with her and made her practice and play matches with the boys. I felt she would be more successful and switched her to No. 5 in the batting order,” said Paul. “At my academy at Baghajatin TarunSangha, she used to be at the nets practically the whole day. Playing matches with the boys helped her develop skills and induce more power into her strokes… She turned herself into a matchwinner on her own,” added Paul.
What does the future hold for the superstar?
During the recently conducted T20 World Cup in South Africa, Richa displayed remarkable consistency. The success she had achieved at the Under-19 World Cup gave her an extra boost of confidence. Her ability to snatch momentum away from the opposition through her strokeplay was evident in the match against West Indies.
“She is not the traditional Indian batter who likes to play the drives and stuff like that,” captain Harmanpreet Kaur said. “I think they are players who enjoy the short ball. She’s a superstar for India.” added the Indian skipper.
Having been selected by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs 1.9 crore in the Women’s Premier League, Richa is looking forward to a new journey that will also provide some financial security. Before the Women’s Premier League auction, the official broadcaster aired a video of Richa Ghosh in which she discussed her desire to buy her family home in Kolkata and expressed her desire for her father to stop working. She was purchased by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the auction a short while afterward for Rs 1.9 crore.
“I can’t describe my feelings with words. There are too many emotions inside my mind right now. That kid has suffered a lot, right from a very young age and I somehow feel responsible for it also,” Manabendra Ghosh told The Indian Express from Siliguri.
Manabendra still recalls how he used to make the 600 km journey from Siliguri to Kolkata on a train in search of cheaper hotels to save money so that his daughter could train.
“Money was an issue. I didn’t know anyone in Kolkata, so I used to look for cheaper hotels where we would stay. Our daily routine was to leave the hotel at 7 am and come back in the evening. The ground was our home in Kolkata,” said Ghosh. “We will not leave Siliguri, but now with the money, I would get her a flat in Kolkata so that she could stay there and practice,” he added.
“In 2013, I took out a loan to get her a bat before her U-19 trials. She couldn’t make it that year but a year later at the age of 12, she made her U-19 debut. From there on, she never looked back and played for the U-23 side the same season. A year later at the age of 13, she played for the senior Bengal team,” said Ghosh.
Richa expressed her gratitude to her parents for helping her succeed in the sport after being overwhelmed by the response she received during the tense auction session. “All my parents wanted me to achieve was to play for India. I want to captain my team and win a major trophy for India. I want to buy a flat in Kolkata. I want my mother and father to settle down there. I want them to enjoy their life now. They have struggled a lot in their life, and they have worked hard a lot for me. Even now, my father does umpire. After the auction, I hope he doesn’t have to work so hard,” Richa Ghosh said to Star Sports after the auction.