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Mamatha lets go of Chinese connect

A lot has been written about Rashid Khan, the former Pakistan player, who is working wonders with the Chinese cricket team since 2006.

cricket Updated: Nov 21, 2010 01:03 IST
Ajai Masand

A lot has been written about Rashid Khan, the former Pakistan player, who is working wonders with the Chinese cricket team since 2006.

But India's very own, Mamatha Maben --- the player known for her comeback after eight years --- has been working up magic with the Chinese women's team and, under her guidance, the hosts managed to reach the semifinals at the Games, before bowing out with their heads held high.

With her assignment coming to an end on Saturday, after a successful one-and-a-half year stint, Mamatha boarded the flight to India, via Chengdu, with moist eyes. "Yes, it's a slightly emotional moment for me, having brought up this team to this standard and now having to leave.

"I came here in March 2009. Initially, it was tough getting used to this country but now that I am going back, I have become fond of this place," says the middle-order bat from Bangalore who doubled up as a useful medium-pacer during her playing days.

"When I came here, the players didn't even know the rudiments.

“As I leave, the team still has a lot of work to do, but they are on the right path," said the head coach, who toured with India to England in 1993 before being dropped but regained her position after eight years when England toured India.

"Initially I had a language problem but I solved it by interacting with 1-2 players who knew some English, and they conveyed my message to the team. Then, I picked up some Chinese. It was tough to get my point across, especially the finer nuances of the game, but after one-and-a-half years, the players understand me and I understand them," said the player who considered quitting the game when she was omitted, but held on to realise her dream of playing for the country again.

"Thanks to the Asian Games, the popularity of the sport has grown. The domestic structure is still to take shape in the provinces, but the game is spreading in schools and universities," says the 40-year-old who celebrated her birthday at the Games.

A veteran of 40 ODIs and four Tests, Maben quit in 2004, playing her last ODI in Surat, but stayed to the game as a journalist, until she got the assignment in China.

Disappointed at China's exit in the semifinals, she says, "We should have bagged a bronze.

“But when you see that we started from a scratch, I think we have made good progress."

On whether, cricket would survive after her departure, Mamatha says, "Definitely, it's going to survive and flourish.

“Someone builds the team, others take it forward. It's an evolving process."

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