In a star-studded Australian side, it is a 17-year-old sensation who has managed to hog the spotlight in the ongoing ICC Women’s World Cup. Excited with the new found attention, young pacer Holly Ferling talks candidly in an exclusive interview with CricketCountry’s Aayush Puthran about her early days in international cricket, glamour in the sport, experience in India and lots more.
Excerpts from an interview:
CricketCountry (CC): You had not played a single match for Australia when your name was announced in the World Cup squad. Were you expecting the call? Holly Ferling (HF): No, not at all. I never thought I’ll be in India for the World Cup. It is wonderful to be given the opportunity to play a couple of games in the World Cup. It is unreal.
CC: What was your reaction when you knew that you were selected to be a part of Australia for the World Cup? HF: I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call from the selectors on Boxing Day. I sat in my room for a couple of minutes to process the whole thing and then walked outside and told mom and dad. Even they were in disbelief. The whole call-up to the team was unexpected.
CC: At such a young age, does it make you nervous to play at a stage like the World Cup? HF: I’m a very nervous player. But that has happened all throughout my life. It happens to me even when I play for my club. I get really nervous. When I find out late that I am playing or I’m not expecting to play and I don’t have enough time to get nervous, it is then that I really get nervous. But then I don’t have a whole day or a couple of days to get nervous so I just enjoy every second that I get. I try to keep everything cool and treat it as just another match.
CC: Your start to international cricket has been pretty good. You have returned with more than fair amount of success in all three matches you have played so far. Talk us through those matches. HF: I made my debut against Pakistan where I took two wickets for 10 runs. We defended a small total and put up a good performance. So that was an incredible match to be a part of. To take three-for against England was a dream come true. To take any wicket against the Poms is a quite an achievement.
CC: It was a tight game… HF: I was very nervous and I kept looking at scoreboard to see how many runs they needed. I had total belief that we could do well. Ozzie (Erin Osborne) performed well and took the last wicket. It was an unreal game to be a part of and a close encounter.
CC: Against the West Indies, although the team lost, you performed well HF: We were a little bit disappointed with the result. We wanted to go in the final undefeated, but we didn’t play well enough. Full credit to the West Indies team, they played really well. But I was happy to take three wickets.
CC: You’ve had a successful entry in international cricket. At such a young age, how tough is it to handle the pressure? HF: I don’t really see it as pressure. I’m from a country town in Queensland, I still can’t get my head around with everything at the moment. I’m in my last year in school. I’m still 17. I’m still laughing it off. Being in India, which is one of world’s cricketing hubs, the kind publicity that we are getting is incredible.
CC: Whom did you enjoy bowling most against? HF: Both England and West Indies had different challenges. I enjoyed bowling against West Indies. I enjoy bowling at batsmen who come at me and try to hit me for runs. I like taking that on as a challenge. I also really liked bowling against England. I have never experienced the game under that much pressure. So that in itself was challenging. You feel really happy with yourself when you win a close game like that. It brings you close as a team.
CC: If we compare men’s and women’s game, it is easy to spot differences at multiple levels. If you could change one thing about women’s cricket, what would you want? HF: One thing we would like as women is a bit more promotion of the sport. We have some incredible talent. I have watched them all on TV and to experience it firsthand is something else. We have got players like Rachael Haynes who can pull the ball a millimeter off the boundary rope. We have Ellyse Perry coming into ball at 120 kmph. In batting, there is Jess Cameron who can smash sixes everywhere. So, a bit more promotion of the game and its popularity across the world is something that we would like.
CC: This is your first visit to India. Have you tried out any local cuisines? HF: Not particularly. I’m not overly keen on spicy food. I was a bit concerned when I got the call to go to India. I was like, ‘Oh my God, India! Spicy food!’ So I have worked my way around the spicy food here. The food at the ground is always good. There is a bit of a mixture between the western food and the Indian food. I’m actually enjoying it.
CC: Have you tried any Indian cuisine in Australia? HF: No, I haven’t as yet.
CC: What has been your best moment in India? HF: There have been a few. Playing against England was an unreal experience. Playing in Cuttack when the crowd was there was surreal. Going down to the market stand was a different experience. I have picked up a few presents for family and few friends.
CC: What do you have to say about the madness for cricket in India? HF: It is unreal. Even when you walk past the crowd with drinks, everybody is cheering you. It is quite incredible and so unique to anything that I have experienced before and I don’t think I will ever experience it again. All the girls are trying to laugh it off and trying to enjoy it. There are so many times when you come across people knowing your names and wanting your autographs.
CC: As a kid, have you rooted for any player in specific? HF: I have rooted for Ellyse Perry. To do what she did at an age of 16 is such an incredible achievement, something that I don’t feel will happen again. I have always aspired to bowl as fast and be as consistent as her.
CC: Among Indian cricketers… HF: I haven’t seen much of the women cricketers of India. But, I really enjoy watching when Indian men come over to Australia. It is always very entertaining.
CC: Sachin Tendulkar… HF: Everyone loves Sachin Tendulkar. Whenever he comes over, there is a lot of talk about him. He is one of the greatest batsmen in the world.
CC: There is a glamour quotient in tennis, beach volleyball, etc. What do you have to say about glamour in women’s cricket with the likes of Ellyse Perry, Isa Guha, Sarah Taylor and a few others playing at the top level?
HF: It does help the sport to sell by having those girls involved as well. Cricket is not as once it was, classified as butcher sport. There is definitely a lot of glamour now with all those girls. I think we sell a good brand of cricket with these girls and also everybody else in the team. Everyone is talented. We definitely put a lot of skill on display.
(While enjoying the small joys of life, rarely has anything mesmerised Aayush Puthran more than cricket. A student of Journalism in Mumbai, he is trying to figure out two things: ways to make Test cricket a commercial hot property and the best way to beat Mumbai traffic. He has a certain sense of obsession with novelty. He might seem confused, but he is just battling a thousand demons within his mind. Nonetheless, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of coffee!)