Her unbeaten 171 against Australia may have made her a household name, but Harmanpreet Kaur has been catching the eye of experts for sometime now. It was former India women’s captain Diana Edulji who spotted the batting all-rounder and got her a job in Western Railway, with some help from Sachin Tendulkar.
Edulji — a retired sports officer from Western Railway — had known of Kaur’s talent from the junior circuit and wanted her to join the Mumbai-based cricket team. Kaur, then 24, already had an offer from Northern Railway and only a better post could have made her shift to Mumbai. “I told her, ‘I will get you a higher post’,” recalls Edulji. “She was getting a junior class in Northern Railway. I offered her a chief office superintendent post. Her application was later sent to Delhi, but was rejected by the president.”
That’s when Tendulkar stepped in. “I requested Sachin, who is a Member of Parliament, to write a letter to the Railway minister, forwarding the case of Harmanpreet Kaur,” Edulji said. Armed with Tendulkar’s letter and a little more persuasion from Edulji convinced the higher authorities to get Kaur inducted into Western Railway.
Unlike their men counterparts, nothing has come easy for the women’s team. Before leaving for the World Cup campaign in England, many players were still scrambling for a kit bag. However, Edulji believes there’s a silver lining. For starters, it was the first time the India women’s team flew in business class. There’s parity on the daily allowance as well: $100, same as men.
“Last time when I travelled to England as a manager we were given £25 per day. Girls used to get packed food from the supermarket nearby, boil it and eat it. At least now things have started to change.”