Anjum Chopra

Anjum Chopra

Player Bio

Anjum Chopra, born on 20 May 1977 in New Delhi, India, stands as a testament to the prowess and dedication of women in the realm of cricket. An Indian former cricketer and a current cricket commentator, Anjum's journey in the sport began at the tender age of 9. Her first foray onto the cricket ground saw her playing a friendly match with a college girls' team at the inter-college level. This initial experience, where she scored 20 runs and took 2 wickets, was just a glimpse of the cricketing marvel she was set to become. Beyond cricket, Anjum was a versatile sportsperson during her school and college days, representing in athletics, basketball, and swimming. She was even a part of the Delhi State basketball team that competed at the national level.

Early Life and Entry into Cricket

Anjum's early life was marked by her passion for sports. Her first significant step in cricket was when she played her first friendly match at the age of 9, scoring 20 runs and taking 2 wickets. This was just a precursor to her talent, as later that same year, she was selected to play for New Delhi in the under-15 tournament. Her versatility as a sportsperson was evident as she represented her school and college in various sports, including athletics, basketball, and swimming. Notably, she was also a member of the Delhi State basketball team that competed at the national level.

Her official entry into international cricket came at the age of 17. Anjum made her debut in one-day internationals on 12 February 1995 against New Zealand in Christchurch. A few months later, she marked her entry into Test cricket against England at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on 17 November 1995. In her early cricketing days, she showcased her prowess by being awarded the player of the series in the one-day internationals against the visiting England cricket team, where she scored runs at an impressive average of 67.5.

Anjum's cricketing style was distinctive. She played as a left-handed batter and bowled right-arm medium pace. Throughout her career, she played in 12 Tests, 127 ODIs, and 18 T20Is. Her coaching journey was guided by Sunita Sharma, Hardeep Dua, and Tarak Sinha from the Sonnet Club. One of her remarkable achievements during her playing days was becoming the first woman to score 1,000 runs in ODIs for India.

Her contribution to cricket was not just limited to her performance on the field. Anjum carved a niche in the male-dominated sport in India and began to be recognized as the face of women's cricket in the country. Her roles were diverse, ranging from a player to a captain, consultant, commentator, motivational speaker, author, and even an actor.

Anjum's family also had a rich sporting background. Her maternal grandfather, Ved Prakash Sahni, was an athlete who represented India and was also a cricket commentator. Her father, Krishan Bal Chopra, was an avid golfer, and her mother, Poonam Chopra, won a Goodyear car rally. Her brother, Nirvan Chopra, represented the state in Under-17 and Under-19 cricket, and her maternal uncle, Rohit Sahni, was a former cricketer who captained both Hindu college and Delhi University.

Major Achievements and Career Highlights

Anjum Chopra's cricketing journey is a tapestry of dedication, skill, and numerous accolades. Her style of play, often compared to the elegance of David Gower, has made her one of India's premier batters for a significant duration. Playing predominantly through the 'V', Anjum's batting prowess is marked by her impeccable timing and her ability to play the ball on its merit. She never hesitated to step out to the spinners, showcasing her confidence and command over the game.

One of the standout moments in her career came during her tour to England in mid-1999. Her coach, Sudha Shah, had remarked that Anjum was better suited for the longer format of the game. Proving her coach right, in the first and second one-day internationals played during this tour, Anjum delivered match-winning performances, including a scintillating century off 127 balls.

The Cricinfo Rani Jhansi Trophy saw Anjum in sublime form, where she finished with an average of over 55. She also recorded the highest individual score in the tournament, a classy unbeaten 89. Her fielding skills were equally commendable. Often positioned close to the wicket, she was a regular in the slips, showcasing her safe pair of hands.

The CricInfo Women's World Cup 2000 provided Anjum with an ideal platform to further establish her name in international cricket. As the vice-captain and opening batter, she had the opportunity to make significant contributions to India's campaign. While she had a mixed performance in the tournament, her scores of 69, 70, and 68 were noteworthy. However, the semi-final clash against New Zealand was a disappointment as she was dismissed for a first-ball duck. India's journey in the tournament ended in the semi-finals, and they had to settle for watching the finals from the sidelines. Yet, five years later, in South Africa, Anjum played a pivotal role in guiding India to the final, where they faced Australia.

Her leadership qualities shone brightly during India's tour of England in 2006. Leading from the front, she scored a crucial 98 at Taunton, helping India secure a win by five wickets. This Test series win was a testament to her ability to perform under pressure and guide her team to victory. Her consistent performances over the years didn't go unnoticed. In August 2007, Anjum was awarded the Arjuna award, one of India's highest sporting honours. It's worth noting that no male cricketer had received this award since Harbhajan Singh in 2003.

Notable Statistics and Records

Anjum Chopra's cricketing statistics are a reflection of her dedication and skill. In the Test format, she played 12 matches, scoring 548 runs with a highest score of 98, averaging 30.44. Her One Day International (ODI) record is even more impressive. In 127 ODIs, she amassed 2856 runs with a highest score of 100, averaging 31.38. She also played 16 T20 Internationals, scoring 241 runs with a top score of 37*.

Anjum's fielding prowess is evident from her record in the slips. She holds the record for the most catches in an innings, showcasing her sharp reflexes and safe hands. Another notable record she holds is for the most runs in a career without scoring a hundred in Women's Test matches.

Her contribution to the game wasn't limited to just her batting and fielding. Anjum was a versatile player who occasionally bowled right-arm medium pace. Though her primary role was as a batter, she did roll her arm over when the team required.

Post-Cricketing Career and Contributions

After hanging up her boots, Anjum Chopra didn't distance herself from the sport she loved. Instead, she transitioned seamlessly into a new role, becoming one of the most respected voices in cricket commentary. Her insights, drawn from her vast experience as a player, added depth to the game's analysis. Anjum became a regular feature in the commentary box, covering both men's and women's cricket matches. Her articulate and informed perspectives have made her a favourite among cricket enthusiasts.

In 2015, Anjum, along with other former women cricketers, became a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) commentary team. This was a significant milestone, as it marked the inclusion of women cricketers in the commentary box for one of the world's most-watched cricket tournaments. Her association with the IPL further cemented her position as a leading cricket analyst and commentator.

Apart from her commentary stints, Anjum has been actively involved in promoting and developing women's cricket in India. She has been a consultant, guiding the next generation of cricketers and ensuring that they receive the right kind of training and exposure. Her efforts have been instrumental in bringing to the fore several young talents who are now representing India at the international level.

Anjum's contributions to cricket were recognised when she became the first Indian woman to be honoured with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) life membership in September 2016. This was a monumental achievement, highlighting her significant impact on the sport.

Moreover, Anjum has ventured into other areas as well. She has been a motivational speaker, inspiring many with her journey and experiences. She penned her experiences in her book, providing a detailed account of her cricketing journey and the challenges she faced. Anjum also tried her hand at acting, showcasing her versatility beyond the cricket field.

Anjum Chopra's legacy in Indian cricket is unparalleled. From her early days as a budding cricketer to her post-retirement contributions, she has been a beacon of inspiration for countless aspiring cricketers, especially women. Her achievements on the field are commendable, but it's her work off the field that has left an indelible mark on the sport.

Her transition from a cricketer to a commentator and mentor showcases her deep-rooted love for the game. Anjum's voice in the commentary box is not just a voice of analysis but also a voice of experience, representing the aspirations and challenges of women cricketers in India.

Her legacy is one of perseverance, dedication, and an undying passion for cricket. Future generations of cricketers, especially women, will look up to her journey as a source of inspiration and motivation. Anjum Chopra's name will forever be etched in the annals of Indian cricket as one of its most illustrious ambassadors.

When did Anjum Chopra retire from international cricket?
Anjum Chopra retired from international cricket in the 2010s, after a distinguished career spanning over a decade.
What role did Anjum Chopra take up post her cricketing career?
Post her cricketing career, Anjum Chopra became a renowned cricket commentator and analyst. She also ventured into motivational speaking and writing.
Did Anjum Chopra receive any significant honours post her cricketing career?
Yes, Anjum Chopra became the first Indian woman to be honoured with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) life membership in 2016.
Has Anjum Chopra written any books?
Yes, Anjum Chopra penned her experiences in a book, detailing her cricketing journey and the challenges she faced.
Did Anjum Chopra play any role in the IPL?
Anjum Chopra, along with other former women cricketers, was a part of the IPL commentary team in 2015, marking the inclusion of women cricketers in the commentary box for the IPL.