Last week, former Australian cricketer Lisa Sthalekar was honored for her extraordinary cricketing career spanning across multiple World Cups. She was inducted into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame. She has become the ninth woman cricketer and the fifth from Australia to receive this honor.
But what makes Lisa’s journey so inspiring is the fact that she started from the footsteps of an orphanage in Pune.
Lisa Sthalerkar’s Early Years
Lisa Sthalekar was born on 13th Aug 1978 in Pune. But unfortunately, her biological parents were unable to support her. So being helpless they were left with no other choice, but to place her at the doorstep of an orphanage called Shreevatsa. Established in 1973, Shreevatsa is involved in developing rehabilitation programs for orphaned children. The orphanage gave her the name Laila and became her first home.
As destiny would have it, when Lisa was three weeks old, Haren and Sue Sthalekar adopted her. Haren and Sue Sthalekar, a couple from Michigan, USA, who had a daughter wanted to adopt a baby boy. They came to Shreevatsa in search of a baby boy but they didn’t find one. In the meanwhile, Sue had fallen in love with this big brown-eyed baby girl, Laila. It was that moment, they decided to stop their search for a boy and adopted her.
After completing all the legal formalities, the couple took the little girl back to the U.S. and they changed her name from Laila to Lisa. Later the couple moved from the USA to Sydney and settled down there.
Lisa Sthalerkar’s Love For Cricket
Lisa Sthalekar, who also served as the Australian team’s captain, credits her father for introducing her to the game. Mumbai-born Haren Sthalekar had a deep interest in the game of cricket. While talking to The Print, she mentioned:
“My father loved the game and I spent a fair bit of them with him in the backyard. I would’ve been about 8-9 when I fell in love with the game,”
Later, she started playing with the boys in her neighborhood. As she grew up, her love for cricket continued. Lisa made her Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) debut in the late 1990s as a bowler. By the early 2000s, she became a frontline batswoman as well. She was also the first woman cricketer to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in women’s ODIs.
Her exemplary career spanned across four World Cup wins, eight Test matches, 125 one-day internationals and 54 internationals in the 20-over format. Lisa Sthalekar was the No.1 women’s all-rounder when the ICC rankings were introduced in 2008. She retired as the No.1 all-rounder and bowler in T20Is and the No.2 all-rounder and bowler in ODIs.
Lisa set several milestones off the field as well. She was the first woman to be on the Australian Cricketers’ Association board and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations.
On the ICC’s decision to honor her, she said,
“I was surprised and I felt that I was certainly still quite young having retired only a few years ago. I felt that there are probably other female players who are more deserving of this but obviously feel very humbled.”
At IFORHER, we are proud of Lisa! Her journey from an orphanage in Pune to captaining the Australian women’s cricket team has been an inspirational one. Through her achievements, she has inspired so many young women to dream big and achieve their dreams.
We congratulate Lisa on such a huge honor and hope she will keep inspiring us.