India women's T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur defended herself against allegations that her graduation degree was fake, and said that had she known something was amiss, she would have "done graduation again, maybe two or three times over".
Harmanpreet had been appointed a Deputy Superintendent of Police by the Punjab government after her remarkable showing in the 2017 World Cup, which included a stunning 171 not out in the semi-final against Australia. However, reports emerged on July 2 that the Punjab police were set to demote her to the rank of a constable with the Chaudhary Charan Singh University of Meerut saying Harmanpreet's enrollment number did not exist in their records.
Harmanpreet, who had initially refused to comment on the reports, defended herself on Tuesday and pointed out that she had even been accepted into a postgraduate course on the basis of her graduation degree, although her blossoming cricket career meant she could never complete her postgraduate degree.
"When you did your graduation, did you go to the head office to verify your enrollment number? Nobody does that," Harmanpreet told the Times of India. "If I am playing, my focus is obviously on cricket. Apart from that, I just wanted to complete my graduation. On the basis of my graduation certificate, I took admission for a post-graduation course in a different university, but could never take my exams because of overseas tournaments. Today, that very degree is being called fake."
Harmanpreet also said that so far the Punjab police had not communicated officially with her about the speculated demotion in rank. "The department should initiate action against me. I am waiting for word from my department... I have not received any notice from my department."
Harmanpreet was previously employed by the Indian Railways and given the rank of office superintendent, in Mumbai, and said she had been offered that post on the basis of the same degree that is being questioned now. "I completed my graduation through distance learning from Chaudhary Charan Singh University in 2009-11," she said. "Earlier, I was pursuing my graduation from a college in Jalandhar, where I did my first year. Thereafter, I was not able to pursue it as my cricket schedule and the examination dates used to clash always. Besides, as the college principal had changed, and they did not like me pursuing sports, they did not adjust exam timings as per my cricket schedule. So, I had to migrate to another university. I have been playing for India after completing my Class XII.
"I have cleared all my exams and my every certificate is legal. My examination centre used to be in Delhi. My subjects were sociology, political science, English and general awareness."
Harmanpreet, 29, made her debut for India in 2009 a day before her 20th birthday on March 7. She has played two Tests, 87 ODIs and 83 T20Is, and is also an Arjuna Award winner. She is in 12th spot on the ICC rankings for batsmen in women's ODIs, and on seventh for the corresponding T20I list. She took over as the full-time T20I captain in October 2016 and her skills have put her in demand in T20 leagues around the world; she has played in the Women's Big Bash League for two seasons and signed for the Kia Super League for the 2018-19 edition, starting next week.