The youngster has been named on the Women's Global Development Squad.
A few years ago, Esha Oza might have been upset at missing the Fifa World Cup. The Dubai girl was, after all, a budding footballer. But that was until she turned to cricket.
Now, she will be a key player for the United Arab Emirates in the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier 2018 in the Netherlands starting 7 July, and she can think of few better reasons for missing watching football than fighting for a spot in the main event in the Caribbean.
Before it's game on for #UAE #Women's Cricket & their #ICC #WWT20 #Global #Qualifier campaign, let's enjoy a short practice video we shot with our girls at @ICCAcademy recently.#OneDreamOneTeam #OurTeamUAE #TheseGirlsRock #PlayLikeAGirl #GoUAE @ANIBDXB @tykasports pic.twitter.com/nnKP0qEiFF— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) July 4, 2018
The India-born Oza, who will turn 20 in August, stands tall at close to 6ft. A student at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, she is also an opener and off-spin bowler for the UAE. This is the first time the team have made it to the qualifying event – just 10 years after they came together – and it is because of the skill and passion of young women like Oza.
Having started playing cricket only five years ago, she took to the game immediately. She worked hard with her father on weekends, staying out until the light allowed it, and in just nine months, she was on the national team.
Look at the time....it's time to get to know another member of YOUR #UAE #Cricket #Women's team.— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) June 23, 2018
12-days until kick-off in our @ICC #WWT20 #Global #Qualifier campaign #GoUAE #TheseGirlsRock #PlayLikeAGirl #OurTeamUAE https://t.co/bVjoLKnUBp - https://t.co/Q24PSX5nSN pic.twitter.com/y0WBDDi6bu
“It’s just a passion,” she said. “I used to stay after practice and do extra work. Usually my dad gave me throw downs, and we worked on shots.”
The last year or so has seen all the hard work pay off. In last season’s domestic T20 league, she was the highest scorer with 337 runs from seven matches, including an unbeaten 101.
She also had a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Ellyse Perry, when the Australia all-rounder’s Women’s Big Bash League side, Sydney Sixers, came to the UAE for practice. The big names were all encouraging, she said.
“I’ve played one match for the Sydney Sixers,” Oza said. “They had injured players so three of us filled in. I didn’t bat, but I bowled one over and got a wicket.
“We were captained by Ellyse Perry. She’s one of the greatest. Just being around her, it just gives a totally different feeling, [it’s like] you’re on a totally different level with them.”
Very soon, she will have more chances to rub shoulders with her cricketing heroes, including Smriti Mandhana – “she’s aggressive, and she plays proper cricketing shots” – Harmanpreet Kaur, Stafanie Taylor, and of course Perry. For Oza has been named in the ICC Women's Global Development Squad.
This combined team, which includes players from the nations participating in the Qualifier, will head to England after the tournament to play against teams from the Kia Super League.
“[It’s] really exciting,” said a delighted Oza. “I didn’t think [I’d ever be] playing with such players before. It’s a great opportunity. I hope I can make the best out of it.”
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