Bijapur, July 17: Basavraj Ijeri is childhood coach of Rajeswari Gayakwad, the left-arm spinner who's five-wicket haul guided Indian women's team to the semi-final, in the ongoing World Cup cricket tournament in England.
Basavraj is the man to have started women's cricket in Bijapur district in Karnatak.
The 36-year old coach, while speaking about her student said over phone on Sunday (July 16), from Bijapur,"Rajeswari used to throw javeline and shot put in the school level. She was one of the prominent javelin throwers in the school. But her father Shivanand was passionate about cricket.
"So, when I started the women's cricket totally on the free of cost, he had sent Rajeswari along with her another daughter Rameswari to the coaching camp. I still can remember that there were only three bowlers among 280 female cricketers who had come for trial in the camp on the opening day. Rajeswari was among those three bowlers. But that time she was a pacer," said he.
As the 26-year-old girl used to throw javeline in the school for around six to seven years, Rajeswari had natural strength of doing fast bowling. But he noticed that Rajeswari was quite erratic as she failed to maintain line and length. So, one morning following advice from her coach Rajeshwari began bowling spin.
Basavraj remembered, “After she started spin bowling I noticed she was being able to deliver excellent and accurate loops which were easily dragging the batsmen out of the crease at the nets. Rajeswari was being able to utilise her wrist action excellently. Then I started shower her the bowling action of former leg-spinner and captain of New Zealand, Daniel Vettori. Gradually he became his idol."
Basavraj lamented saying, “The women's cricket project in Bijapur is on the brink of closure. How long I will continue it with free of cost? Now, there are only four women who come to the nets. But I am sad to have seen one thing that Rajeswari has not come forward with any kind of financial help. She has joined Railways now. Still she has not presented the Bjapur Club a pair of gloves."