Opener Esha Oza in the national team squad for July's Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier in the Netherlands as well as ICC’s Global Development Squad for five matches in England
UAE women's cricket prodigy aims to take her game 'to a new level'
Esha Oza is looking to take her cricket "to a new level" when she represents the UAE at July's Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier in the Netherlands.
The 19 year old from India, who at 5ft 11 ins dwarfs the rest of her teammates, has shown plenty of improvement since switching from football to take up cricket five years ago.
The talented opener has scored 337 runs in seven games this season, including 101 not out, for an average 67.40 and also bowls off-spin.
She has ambitions of playing in some of the established women’s competitions such as the Big Bash League and IPL-style competitions in India or even a contract with county teams in England and believes a strong showing in the Netherlands for the national team and in England will help her chances of doing so.
“It’s a big moment for me and an opportunity to take my cricket to a new level,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind playing full-time cricket."
A second-year student at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, Oza was recommended by the Emirates Cricket Board for five matches for the ICC’s Global Development Squad in England that precedes the Qualifier in the Netherlands.
“I’m studying in an Australian university in Dubai and perhaps I can move there [overseas] to complete my final year. There are no plans right now but I have that option if my cricket is going in the right direction.”
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Oza's trajectory since taking up the sport five years ago has been headed in only one direction. She was called up for the UAE women’s national team trials after her first appearance in a six-a-side tournament in 2013 organised by the Desert Cubs Cricket Academy - where she continues to hone her craft - just months after switching from football. Opening the inning, she served notice to the selectors by hitting 36 not out off 16 balls against the UAE women’s team.
Oza was included in the squad for the Gulf Cup in Oman in 2014 and returned as the top scorer in the competition and has been a fixture in the national team since.
“I watched cricket matches on television and it was a game that I wanted to play all along,” she said.
“My fitness from football and watching cricket on TV came in handy when I switched from one sport to another. Thereafter, it was learning and training all the way.
“I went for trials but didn’t get selected and that was understandable because I was in cricket for only four months at that time,” she said.
Presley Polonnowita, founder and head coach of Desert Cubs Cricket Academy, says Oza has all the attributes to develop as a top-class cricketer.
“From the time she joined the academy Esha has shown unwavering passion and commitment to learn and put in the hard work to improve her cricket,” he said.
“She is now reaping those rewards. She’s got a bright future ahead if she continues to work the same way she has been for the last five years and I have no doubt on that.”
Preparation is the key for Oza who has stepped up her training from the weekends to five days a week.
“I train with the national team three days a week and spend the weekends at Desert Cubs where I first started and remain to this day.”
Oza was born in India and moved to Dubai with her parents when she was eight. Her father Rohit, mother Falguni and older sister Mansi have played a big part on her development as a cricketer.
“My family has always supported me in whatever I chose to do,” she said. “They have been my best support system from the time I started learning cricket and they have also sacrificed their commitments so that I don’t miss training.”