Parthiv Patel’s 10,000-run feat in first-class cricket is a tribute to the 32-year-old’s resolve. Picked to play a Test at 17 and dropped at 20, the Gujarat wicketkeeper-batsman almost lost his way in the game he so loved.
“I am happy the way I have tackled the challenges from the time I started playing Test cricket. Then being dropped and suffering a couple of seasons with not even 250 as season’s aggregate was painful. I would be lying if I say I was not low on confidence. I began to doubt myself,” Patel told Sportstar here on Friday.
Obviously it was a critical phase in Patel’s career. “I was dropped when I was 20. There are players who don’t even start first-class cricket at that age. I had the advantage of knowing things. What it takes to make a mark at the international level. I had that advantage. I was matured as a player and that helped me make a comeback.”
It was not easy though. Patel was apprehensive if he belonged to that level. “There were a few times when I thought I may not be able to catch the ball again. I was scared of catching the ball honestly. Then I decided to train with the under-16 boys to sort of regain my confidence. I just did not worry about getting dropped from any team anymore. I had to once again start enjoying my cricket. My family supported me and my association backed me. That was critical.”
Sixteen years of grind in domestic cricket makes Patel a veteran on the circuit. “The biggest change (in domestic cricket) is the facilities at the ground. Small centres had little facilities. Grounds were not good and accommodation was poor. It has undergone a dramatic transformation now.”
Patel, the first Indian batsman to hit five consecutive first-class centuries in a row, praised the existing system. “I am always there for a change. The BCCI is there to take care of everything that is good for the players. Our national team is doing well because the domestic cricket structure is so good. We have started winning overseas and the players are hungry for success and well equipped to play when touring.”
On reaching the 10,000-mark during the ongoing Duleep Trophy, Patel said, “For me the goal was 6000 plus runs by Mukund Parmar. It was huge for us. That was the benchmark. I knew I had the ability but 10000 was not an obsession. The goal was to get back into the Indian side and contribute to my team’s victory at all level. I was nervous for the last 10 runs and was counting my progress.”
The Ranji Trophy triumph last season was an unforgettable achievement for Gujarat. “We were confident when no one gave us a chance. I think I played my best innings in the final (against Mumbai),” said Patel, who made 90 and 143 to steer Gujarat to its first ever Ranji title. The process had started four years ago. “We dropped a few senior players. Told them we don’t want contributors but match-winners. That’s where the performances came from.”
What is his mantra for success? “Stay grounded. I don’t become too happy and not too sad. You have to strike a balance.”
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