Lisa Sthalekar never wanted to find her biological parents or even visit the orphanage where she was left after her birth. “I had no questions, no curiosity because the family who adopted me gave me a wonderful life,” said the former cricketer and international commentator speaking to The Indian Express from Sydney.
However, in 2012, when she entered PuneAt the Shreevasta Orphanage in Sassoon, inside Sassoon Hospital, where she had been found at the door soon after her birth on August 13, 1979, something inside her stirred. “It was surprisingly overwhelming,” she admits.
She stayed in touch with authorities and returned last year for another visit. “I still don’t feel the need to know my birth parents, but it’s nice to look back at the place I started my life from and be grateful for the one I have today,” says the 44-year-old whose journey from an orphanage to becoming one of the world’s most remarkable all-rounders is the stuff dreams and destiny are made of.
“I never had a problem being adopted. I knew it from the start. I was three weeks old when my adoptive parents, who already had an adopted daughter, came to pick up a son from the Pune orphanage to complete the family. Instead, they found me and that was it,” says Sthalekar.
Fate favors the good and so a series of small miracles allowed the Sthalekars – father Haren and English mother Sue – to obtain a passport for the baby within a few days. Her name was changed from Laila, as given by the orphanage, to Lisa and she returned to the United States for a whole new life.
After 18 months in the United States and a short stay in Kenya, the family came to Australia to obtain an Australian passport for four-year-old Lisa, a passport they all had, then decided not to return at all.
As a young boy who grew up in Mumbai playing cricket at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Haren was keen to introduce Lisa to the game. “I was daddy’s little girl, ready to follow in his footsteps,” smiles Stalekar. It all started in their backyard and before she knew it, Lisa was enrolled at the Gordon Club in North Sydney, from where she was catapulted into the national women’s cricket team to become one of the world’s leading figures. most renowned in Australian women’s cricket.
A product of New South Wales, she made her ODI debut for Australia at the age of 21, starting primarily as a bowler who batted in the lower order. She went on to become the first female cricketer to complete 1,000 ODI runs and take 100 wickets.
Later, Sthalekar led the women’s team and brought many laurels to Australia like winning the World T20 tournament in 2012 and another World Cup title in 2013. In 2013, Lisa announced her retirement from cricket active.
Currently, Sthalekar, who has also been awarded the Belinda Clarke Award and inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame, is a highly sought-after commentator and mentor for the UP Warriors in the Women’s Premier League.
Having been to India several times for work and familiar with the men’s and women’s cricket teams, she commentated on the first two weeks of this World Cup during the matches organized in Ahmedabad, Delhi and Dharamshala, before returning to Australia to watch the rest of the matches from Down Under.
Some time ago, Sthalekar also had a strong desire to adopt a child from Shreevatsa, reveals Sharmila Sayed, administrative officer of the orphanage, who welcomed her with a ‘Welcome Home’ banner and an aarti when she entered the orphanage in 2012. .
“Yes, I did,” Sthalekar agrees. “But I was unable to do so due to the lack of an adoption agreement between Australia and India. So for now, I let go of that thought. Also considering my hectic travel, lifestyle and age, it’s for the best.
However, she is now doing her part by serving on the board of Adopt Change, an Australian organization and also working as an ambassador.
Looking back at cricket and the final World Cup match between India and Australia on Sunday which she plans to watch with her close friend Alyssa Healy, wife of Australian cricketer Mitchell Aaron Starc, she says: “C It’s always great when the home team succeeds. in the final and it’s going to be a real blockbuster. I know India are the favourites, but I wouldn’t rule out the Australian team either because they have developed well. More than knowing who will win or lose, what I hope for is an exciting and nail-biting match that will keep you in suspense until the last ball.