Danielle Wyatt has been an integral part of the England women’s cricket team since her One-Day International (ODI) debut against India in March 2010. Currently in London, where lockdown restrictions were eased on June 1, Wyatt has been doing most of her training indoors, while also engaging herself in activities for which she doesn’t get time earlier due to a busy cricket schedule.
‘Waggy’, as she is nicknamed, caught up with cricket.com for an exclusive conversation on topics ranging from the 2020 T20 World Cup, women’s IPL, friendship with the Sachin Tendulkar family and a lot more. Here are the excerpts:
With no cricket happening, what have you been up to these days? Any new-found interests?
I have been trying to keep busy. I have been doing a lot of things like gardening, cooking, baking and the other routine things. I didn’t get the chance to engage in these activities for the last 10 years due to a busy schedule in international cricket. It has been nice to have the same routine and to be at one place. Also, the weather here has been amazing. We had a lot of barbecues at home during the lockdown and I had a lot of tasty tandoori chicken. I am also doing a lot of fitness stuff - long runs and pilates. Plus, I have been trying to do TikTok dance videos, but it is quite hard as I can’t dance that well. My mom has got better dance moves than me! So yeah, just trying to keep busy. It is important to keep your mental health good during such times so I try to stay proactive.
You made your debut against India and your highest T20I score also came against the same opposition. Is there any special liking for the team?
Um, yes, I made my debut in Mumbai back in 2010, it was a very special day for sure. Charlotte Edwards presented me with my cap. It was a very hot day in Mumbai. I can't remember the name of the ground but it was a bit far out.
And to get a win, a 28 not out and to hit the winning run made it even more special. I remember my first international run came off Jhulan Goswami. I just guided it down to third man, I don't know how because I was so nervous. Yeah, that was a very special day for sure. My dad was actually in the air, on the aeroplane on his way over so he missed my debut. But he was there for my T20I debut the next day, which didn't go so well. I think I got run out on the first ball.
And yeah, I also got my highest T20I score against India – the 124. Feels like it was just yesterday. Everything just went as per plan that day. It was a fantastic wicket, an absolute belter and yeah, I remember hitting Goswami for two fours in the first over of the game and I remember thinking, "Yeah, feel good, let's go".
I just backed myself, hit my strengths, widened the outfield, just kept going and the next minute I was on 80-odd runs and then I got my hundred with a four over Deepti Sharma's head. It was a very special moment to have my dad in the crowd.
And there is also a funny story from that day I can recall. Sachin Bajaj, who is quite high up at the Brabourne Stadium, said to me the day before: "If you get a hundred tomorrow, you can have one of my cricket bats for free." He brought these cricket bats to training a day before and I wanted them. So, since I got a hundred, he gave me the bat. I love playing cricket at the Brabourne Stadium – fantastic ground.
Yuzvendra Chahal and you often troll each other on social media. Tell us about your friendship.
I have never met Chahal. We follow each other on Instagram and have some good friendly banter towards each other. He is a fantastic bowler and he is absolutely funny on social media too.
Can you shed some light on your bond with the Tendulkar family? How and when did this begin?
So, I first met Sachin and Arjun at Lord's Cricket Ground. Maybe 2009 or 2010 when I was with MCC young cricketers and they were training in the nets. Literally I went to the nets and said hello and introduced myself saying I am Danni etc. Arjun would have been 10 years old back then, he was so small. There is a photo somewhere on Google. I bowled to him that day, he was very good.
Since then whenever I bump into Sachin or Arjun or whenever they come to Lord’s to train, I go to the nets and ask him (Arjun) to bowl the new ball to me. But he is getting very quick now. He always says I will bounce you and knock your head off so I don’t like him bowling to me anymore. He is getting too dangerous to face. (Laughs).
They are a lovely family. Arjun’s mom is also lovely. Recently, I bumped into Sachin in Australia during the World Cup. It is nice to see them whenever I see them.
You have played in many T20 leagues – WBBL, KSL… How important do you think a women’s IPL is for the Indian team?
I think it is a fantastic tournament to play in. Playing cricket in India is the highlight of a cricketer’s career. Playing on the field, being on the boundary in front of big crowds, everyone screaming your name – it is all an amazing feeling. But not so good when you get out in a game against India. (Laughs).
But when I last played in Jaipur in the IPL (Women's T20 Challenge), I got a couple of Player of the Match awards. It was a special feeling to play three games. I was like ‘wow I am playing in the IPL in front of 15000 people’. This was my dream. Growing up watching the IPL on TV and then actually getting to play it.
I'm really happy playing in the women's IPL and hopefully I will play again. It has been postponed this year so I will try to manage my schedule to play in it again. To play with and against some of the best players in the world is very beneficial for me and all the Indian players as well. It can only be a good thing to have a women’s IPL. It is also a great exposure for the women’s game and it’s a fantastic tournament for the young players in Indian cricket.
If you had to play for one of the men’s IPL teams, which one would it be?
I don’t mind any team, really. But I support Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) because they have/had Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Moeen Ali, Yuzvendra Chahal and AB de Villiers. So, RCB would be cool, I’d like to play for them.
How difficult do you think it will be for professional cricketers to get back to rhythm once cricket resumes?
I think it would be weird in the first few sessions. But you never forget your skills. Everyone is going to be rusty and a little nervous. It is certainly going to be very different for a few months or maybe even years. So, you just need to adapt and keep things simple. Relax and trust your skills and trust that everything would be fine.
How have you been training these days? What does your indoor training session include?
So, I have been doing a few drills in the garden, doing a lot of top hand and bottom hand drills with a partner or against the wall. Also doing catches and bowling against the wall. We have been lucky enough to be able to get out onto the field for an hour every day and now it has been changed to more than an hour. So, we can go out on the field and do our fitness or do some fielding drills, batting and bowling. So, I have been keeping in nick and not forgotten how to hold a bat.
This year’s T20 World Cup final saw the stadium packed like never before. How encouraging does this feel for all of you? Do packed stadiums also increase the players’ intensity on the field?
Yeah, it was great to see the World Cup final attended by eighty thousand people. Very sad that we didn’t make it because of the rain in the semi-final but yeah, to see the crowd was amazing and to see how women’s cricket has progressed.
I was a bit disappointed with the lesser crowd during the World Cup, but it was a lot better than it was back when I played cricket in Australia in 2013. The women’s game has come a long way in Australia and around the world as well.
I get pumped up if it is a big crowd and that is why I love playing cricket in India because everyone there is so passionate. Some cricketers don’t like it because it makes them nervous. But I thrive on it and really enjoy it.