Who is a Cricket Writer?
A cricketer writer is one who is able to study the game and then present it in his/her words in a manner that strikes a connection with the reader.
Why Cricket Writing? How it all got started for you?
Cricket has been my passion from childhood and I had always wanted to make a living out of the game. As a kid, I was actively involved in organising cricket tournaments in my home town, Bhubaneswar. I remember single-handedly organising day and night tennis ball cricket tournaments with a set of friends, and it was a great confidence booster.
One of the visions that was constant with me was the ability to watch cricket matches around the world without having to buy a ticket. But it took a while before I could find a path. Being quite active in extracurricular in school and college, I thought event management is where I belong. But soon I realised that event management can only keep me this much close to the game, and that is when I decided to do the sports management course. It so happened that Wisden India was opening in India not long after I had finished my course, and I applied for the job and got it – without any journalistic background.
What is your typical day like?
The day depends on whether I am on desk or am touring.
If I am on desk, it involves a lot of website maintenance work. The key there is to be alert to what is happening in your domain and to react immediately. Pick up the phone and file a reaction copy. Or if you have a big picture idea then ensure you are always on research mode, so that the final story comes out well.
When I am touring, I report on what is happening at the venue. It means attending pre-match and post-match press conferences and filing copies – either opinion or quotes copy. Then there is the match report to be done, which has to be filed within two minutes of the match getting over. You can imagine the tension when it is a close game. That apart, I always look out for city specific stories and try to visit relevant people.
Once the reporter files, those handling the desk edit the copy before it goes up on the website. Then the social media team does the sharing on various platforms.
How different are you from an 18 year old you?
I don’t think I am much different from what I was when I was 18 years old. I have always been purpose driven. Currently my job entitles me to tell cricket stories in the best possible way I could. That involves a lot of preparation and research work. It also involves establishing contacts and getting as much possible out of them.
The factor that drives me is cricket, especially which is not on mainframe media like women’s cricket, domestic cricket and age-group cricket.
What steps did you take to land in your present job?
Interestingly, I had never thought about making a career as a cricket writer till the job came calling. I was more of an events person, as I have mentioned above. I was freelancing from Cricket Country, but I had never thought about being a full time writer till Wisden India opened up. Since then it has been a joy ride, giving me a chance to live my dream of interacting with cricketers and bringing their stories into public domain.
If you are given a chance to change something in the past, what will you change?
If given a chance, I would have played a bit more cricket. I played for my club at junior level and was in the reserves of Bhubaneswar Under-16 team, but if I would have played more professional cricket at senior level, then it would have enhanced my understanding of the game even more and made me grasp the technical nuances with more clarity.
What have been the most surprising elements of this career?
As such there is not much difference to what I do and what I had thought my career to be. The surprising element has been the access to cricketers and the sport as such. After a point we take it for granted, but it should not be forgotten that many people would love to be in the position I am in.
What did you learn after you started your career?
The biggest thing I have learnt about my career is that, everyone has their own style of storytelling.
It is about identifying your strength and making it work for you. It could be so easy to get discouraged by the class of some big names, but it is important to understand your craft better than anything else. It’s a long term pursuit which takes a few years before you start having a command on what you are communicating.
What things would you do differently in preparing for this career? Advice to your younger self? Your best career decision?
I was lucky that my grandfather made me write a page of English, Hindi and Odia every morning and made me read editorials in three languages. Thats’s when my relationship with language started, and then I had very encouraging english teachers at school. When I topped in English in Class XII, my teacher said that she wasn’t surprised. It was a big confidence booster. The more you read the better you become.
What do you love about your current role?
The best thing about my job is I get to do what I love, and I don’t have to run behind targets. I have enough time for myself to retain my element of creativity.
What are the challenges you face in your career?
I won’t say there is any challenge as such when you are doing what you love. Every day you dedicate time to ensure that the evolution continues.
Will the sports management professionals be in demand in the near future?
Sports management professionals will be in demand because, the sports market in India is just starting to open up.
Can you please summarise your career journey?
- +2 – Commerce, DAV Public School.
- Graduation – BBM, Marketing.
- Post Graduation – MBA, Marketing, People’s Education Society Institute of Technology, Bangalore.
- Sports Project Manager – Wizcraft International Entertainment (2 years).
- Freelance Cricket Writer – Cricket Country
- Post Graduation – Msc., Sports and Leisure Management, University of Sheffield.
- Cricket Writer – Wisden India
- Completed Level 1 certification in Umpiring – under the England and Wales Cricket Board and officiated in the Yorkshire and Derbyshire League.
- Diploma – Event Management, Event Management Development Institute.
Future Aspirations: My future aspiration is to contribute significantly to the grassroots development of sport in India.
What sort of experiences helped prepare you most?
More than what I learnt in the classroom, I was fortunate to be involved in activities outside classroom and it gave a big lift to my man-management skills. Eventually everything we do is mostly about managing expectations of people around you.
How can I become a Cricket Writer?
Doing a professional course in journalism always helps, but it is not the be all and end all.
As long as you have a flair for the language and have a basic understanding of the game, the world is your oyster.
The point is, study something that is wider in spectrum so that you bring new elements into the profession.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I read a lot of books, which in a way is a preparation for my work.
I am 17 and I am planning for a similar career path like yours. What advice you have for me?
- Enjoy your present.
- Try asking yourself what suits your temperament best and work towards satisfying that desire.
- The more you engage yourself in this pursuit, the earlier you will find the right path.
- Be true to yourself and don’t get discouraged by the negativity around you.
- Be clear in your goal, which is not easily possible as a teenager.
- Just enjoy and have fun.
Ensure that you don’t have much financial burden early in your career, so that you can invest time in finding your path and building a portfolio for yourself.
What are some alternate career options for a Sports Management Professional ?
Things are still evolving, so you could be a:
- Media manager for a team
- Logistic manager for various tournaments
- Marketing manager
Who do you think should take up this career choice?
If you love sports, that is the first criteria taken care of.
What are some resources you use to keep yourself updated about your industry?
ESPNcricinfo is the modern home of cricket. And, I read a lot of cricket books.
From your point of view what you do think the current generation and their parents are collectively doing wrong?
I think today’s parents are more open to offbeat career options than what was the case till my generation. I don’t think we can hold current parents at fault.
Any final thoughts?
- Follow your passion and give in your 100 percent.
- Think big picture and there is always a new road waiting to be explored. Good luck to the students.
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