On the occasion of the fifty-sixth birthday of former Indian female cricketer Gargi Banerjee, we enlist 15 essential facts about her.
1. Gargi Banerjee was born on 20th July 1963 in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta).
2. An avid sports lover, Banerjee took keen interest in a variety of sports while growing up. She played badminton, football and basketball, but it was cricket which eventually took the front seat.
3. Banerjee’s formal training in the game began in 1976 under the supervision of Kalyan Biswas and Kartick Bose when she was selected for the YWCA club after enrolling herself for a cricket coaching trial. Gradually, she rose through the ranks in Bangal cricket before making the cut for the Indian team.
4. Apart from Bose and Biswas, Banerjee has admitted to having received guidance from Salim Durrani, Rajinder Amarnath and Bishan Singh Bedi.
5. She received constant encouragement from her family members, especially her brother, during her formative years despite many people holding the view that the game is not meant for girls.
6. Speaking of the difficulties she had to face while pursuing the game in her initial years, Banerjee, in a 2017 interview with cricfit.com, said, ‘’We had to face a lot of difficulties during those days, especially in monetary matters. We used to play club cricket back then and travel by 3 tier that too without a reservation on numerous occasions. At times, we had to sit near the bathroom on the train and also sleep in the gallery when we went to play the nationals. Also, there was no physio, trainer or a video analyst, but we accepted all these issues just for the sake of our passion for cricket.”
7. A right-handed opener who could bowl right-arm medium fast, Banerjee made her debut for India at the tender age of 14 years and 165 days—a record at that time—against England on her home turf, the Eden Gardens at the 1978 Women’s Cricket World Cup.
8. Six years after making her ODI debut, Banerjee made her Test debut against Australia at the Feroze Shah Kotla on 21st January 1984. She scored a fifty in the second innings of that game and produced another in the fourth game of the series. The series was drawn 0-0.
9. Her maiden international five-wicket-haul (6/19) came against New Zealand in Cuttack.
10. Banerjee’s most remarkable achievement in international cricket is undoubtedly her twin fifties (60 and 75) in the Blackpool Test of Indian Women’s 1986 tour of England—the first time an Indian Women’s squad was picked to tour England.
11. In all, Banerjee played 12 Tests and 26 ODIs between 1978 and 1991, scoring 614 runs @ 27.90 and 409 runs @ 15.73 respectively. There was a three-year hiatus in her career from 1987 to 1990 because the Indian Women’s team didn’t play any international game during that period owing to the lack of funds.
12. Banerjee, to date, holds the record for scoring most runs in Women’s Tests without making a century.
13. Her cricketing achievements caught the attention of late Madhavrao Scindia (Union Railway Minister in the late eighties), who arranged a job for her in Railways.
14. Even after retiring from the game, Banerjee served Indian women’s cricket and continues to do so in various capacities. She was the chairperson of the selection committee for the women’s national team from 2011 to 2014, has served as manager of the Indian women’s team and has also been a BCCI match referee.
15. In April 2017, she was conferred with an honorary life membership by the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), and in January 2018, she was bestowed with the ‘Khelasree’—an award instituted by the Government of West Bengal to honour the former sportspersons of the state.
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