Red Bull Campus Cricket is the world’s biggest international college cricket tournament.
The 11th edition of the tournament was conducted in India with the men’s and women’s finals played at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on 11th June 2022. Alfalah University, Delhi, won the men’s final while Marwari College, Ranchi, were the women’s champions.
India women’s opening batter Smriti Mandhana, Assam and Rajasthan Royals batting all-rounder Riyan Parag and former India cricketer Snehal Pradhan were present at the venue for the finals. During the day, they joined host Suhail Chandhok for a live chat session on Twitter Spaces where they discussed Red Bull Campus Cricket, how it impacts cricket careers positively, and their recent personal experiences on the cricket field.
Here are some important points raised during the conversation.
Riyan recognizes that Red Bull Campus Cricket is a big opportunity for youngsters
Red Bull Campus Cricket has been a launch pad for international players like KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Niroshan Dickwella, and many others. Riyan feels the tournament really helps young cricketers in their career.
“Red Bull Campus Cricket Women’s Championship is very special. Even today at the presentation ceremony I heard one of the girls’ say how big of an exposure this was for her. (For men’s teams as well) I think having a white-ball tournament where you get to play under the light is exciting. As a kid I always dreamed of playing under the lights. I think having a stage like this to showcase your ability is very big for them. I hope they have fun and learn a lot from this experience,” said Riyan.
Smriti and Snehal say the opportunity for female cricketers to play at international stadiums in Red Bull Campus Cricket is massive
Both the men’s and women’s finals of Red Bull Campus Cricket 2022 were played at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, which has hosted more than 40 international games.
Snehal said: “I would have thought that in order for someone to play in stadiums like Mohali – a stadium where I never got to play during my career – you might have to play for India or your state. The way Red Bull takes care of the players, their accommodation and treatment [the fact that they are playing at an international stadium] everything is equivalent to the hospitality given to international players.”
Smriti said: “I think it was an amazing experience for the girls in the final. They were excited about the match and the whole setup. Like Snehal said, for these girls to play at an international stadium and to experience a presentation ceremony was special. I could see some girls excited to go up on stage and speak. These little things will really help shape their career. They’ll have a lot of motivation after playing this tournament.”
Smriti says now is the perfect time for more brands to get involved in women’s cricket
“Brands like Red Bull have helped a lot in the growth of the women’s game. Their motto is to grow with the athletes and provide us with the best infrastructure and whatever we ask for. The number of brands investing in women’s cricket has gone up higher in the last few years but we would like to see them go even higher. I feel that this is the best time to get involved in women’s cricket. More the brands, more the visibility for women’s cricket and that’s what we want,” Smriti said.
Snehal and Smriti bat for more tournaments for women’s cricket
Snehal said: “The middle phase in the recent Women’s World Cup that happened in New Zealand was so competitive. Women’s cricket is now more competitive than ever with infrastructure and academies in place. We just need more tournaments to get more girls involved in the game.”
Smriti said: “There have been many changes in the domestic structure for women over the years. But I would like to see more small tournaments, like prize money tournaments, district matches and club matches for different age groups. This will really help for growth of women’s cricket.”
Snehal is happy that smaller cities are producing lots of talent in women’s cricket
In the Red Bull Campus Cricket women’s final, Marwari College from Ranchi defeated Rizvi College from Mumbai. Rizvi College had been the defending champions in the tournament, and coming from a cricketing powerhouse city like Mumbai. So Snehal was happy to see a more diversified talent pool in the tournament.
“I would like the Red Bull tournament to expand to more cities. Currently the women’s tournament is in four cities and I would like to see that number go up to eight. Some of the girls from Ranchi told me that there are six to seven colleges in their city which can field a women’s team. There is a lot of talent outside the traditional cricket centres like Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai, and I am so glad to see Ranchi coming into the Red Bull Campus Cricket environment,” said Snehal.
Riyan looks up to Ben Stokes the most among his past international teammates in Rajasthan Royals
England all-rounder Ben Stokes opted out of the 2022 premier league season to play the County Championship at home. But during his time with the Rajasthan Royals, he inspired Riyan to work harder on his game and conduct himself better.
“I really look up to Ben Stokes. I got inspired by him because he is an all-rounder. We all know he is a skilful player but having seen the work he puts in behind the scenes and how he conducts himself, I have been really impressed. For me how he has been off the field and the work he put into his game mean a lot,” said Riyan.
Riyan says a finisher’s job is one of the hardest in T20 cricket
In the 2022 season, Riyan was given the role of lower-order power hitter and part-time off-spin bowler with Rajasthan Royals. He was also excellent in the field, taking stunning catches and stopping plenty of boundaries. But he says the job given to him with the bat was one of the toughest he has had.
“Playing the role of a finisher is a very selfless job and one of the hardest jobs in T20 cricket. You go in with an over or two left and you have to start hitting straightaway [no time to settle]. But I want to hold on to that spot for Rajasthan Royals. I have seen the best in the business, MS Dhoni, do the same role. I can learn so much from him. I have taken a lot of learnings from this season and hopefully next year we can do even better,” said Riyan.