Indian vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, one of this year’s most prolific white-ball cricketers, is considering pulling out of the upcoming Women’s Big Bash League to help manage her workload.
The 26-year-old, who currently sits at No. 4 on the women’s T20I batting rankings, represented the Sydney Thunder last summer, finishing as the club’s highest run-scorer with 377 at 34.27 and taking out the Alex Blackwell Medal for player of the tournament.
Mandhana also equalled the all-time WBBL record for highest individual score in November last year, smacking an unbeaten 114 against the Melbourne Renegades in Mackay.
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But the talented left-hander has confessed to feeling mentally fatigued following a busy 12 months for the Indian national team, weighing up whether to miss the WBBL and focus on international commitments.
“I think more than the mental part, it’s about managing a little bit of physical part,” Mandhana told reporters in England on Tuesday.
“Definitely I’ll be thinking about pulling out of WBBL because I don’t want to miss out on playing for India or having any niggles when I play for India because I want to give my 100% when I play international cricket. So definitely I’ll be thinking about playing or pulling out of Big Bash.”
The Indian women’s team is currently touring England for a white-ball series before travelling to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, which runs from October 1 to 16 — the WBBL gets underway on October 13.
Mandhana, who has represented India in 74 ODIs and 94 T20s since making her international debut in 2013, emphasised that the increased volume of cricket on offer for women was a positive development, but stressed that players still needed to be managed appropriately.
“I just try to tell myself that because of Covid we haven’t really played a lot of cricket and we really hoped that we came back and start playing cricket,” she explained.
“And now I can’t be complaining that we have a lot of cricket on the platter. As a woman player we always wanted this sort of schedule for us. I’m really happy to be playing so much cricket and I’ve had my family over, like my mum is over here and she was here for the Hundred as well. So that also helps to be in a good mindset and the teammates have been just amazing. It feels like we’re a family together.”
Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur recently called for the national team to have a full-time sports psychologist travelling with them, and Mandhana echoed her skipper’s remarks on Tuesday.
“Harman rightly pointed out … we had a psychologist with us during the World Cup and she helped a lot of girls,” she said.
“The way the cricket schedule is right now, many girls will benefit from such a mentor or psychologist in the team. I agree with Harman that such a move will help a lot of girls in the team.”
Mandhana was India’s highest run-scorer during the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year with 327 at 46.71, including a match-winning century against the West Indies in Hamilton.
She was India’s most prolific run-scorer at last month’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, registering 159 runs at a strike rate of 151.42 in five knocks as the Asian nation clinched a silver medal.
Mandhana also recently represented the Southern Brave in The Hundred women’s competition, finishing the tournament as the team’s highest run-scorer with 211 at 30.14.
Mandhana cracked an unbeaten 79 on Wednesday morning AEST as India claimed a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over England in Derby.
The opening batter struck 13 boundaries to help the visitors chase the 143-run target with 20 balls to spare and level the three-match series at 1-1.
Earlier in the match, Indian spinner Sneh Rana claimed career-best figures of 3/24 to restrict England to 6/143 from their 20 overs, with teenage prodigy Freya Kemp smacking an unbeaten half-century in the first innings.
At 17 years and 145 days, Kemp became the second-youngest English player to score a half-century in international cricket, behind only the legendary Sarah Taylor.
The third T20 between England and India gets underway in Bristol on Friday morning AEST, with the first ball scheduled for 3.30am