Cousins Ingty and Lamare defy age

Mark Ingty is 42, while his cousin Jason Lamare is 35, but both cleared the Yo-Yo test to move a step closer to their dream of playing cricket for Meghalaya in the domestic season.

Jason Lamare (left) and Mark Ingty at the team hotel in Nadiad on Monday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

One is 42, the other 35.

But for cousins, Mark Ingty and Jason Lamare, age is just a number. At a time when most of their contemporaries have either hung up their boots or are exploring different career paths, the two are gearing up to play the Vijay Hazare Trophy for their home state Meghalaya.

The cousins have taken the young cricketers of the state by surprise, clearing the Yo-Yo test with amazing figures. While Ingty — who turned 42 on Sunday — clocked 17.2 (much higher than the 16.1 benchmark set by the Indian national team), Lamare has a figure of 15.6.

The two, however, want to improve the figures. “Next time, I want to set a higher benchmark. That’s the target,” Ingty tells Sportstar.

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Both Ingty and Lamare have previously played the Ranji Trophy for Assam and after a decade-long gap, they are back in the mix. While Lamare will be leading the Meghalaya side in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the vastly experienced fast bowler Ingty will be spearheading the bowling attack.

“In the past, we have played for a neighbouring state. Now that Meghalaya is making a mark in first-class cricket, we wanted to be part of it,” Ingty says. A student of former India captain, Bishan Singh Bedi, Ingty has featured in 14 first-class and seven List-A matches for Assam and has 35 first-class wickets in his kitty.

When he made his debut for Assam in 2002-2003, Ingty was considered one of the promising talents of the state, but prone to injuries, he slowly lost steam. “I would play a lot of sports. After the cricket season, I would play basketball and that’s how I would pick up injuries. At that time, I did not think too much, but later it did cost me dear,” Ingty, who now works with Air India and is posted at Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International airport in Guwahati, says.

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Having trained under Bedi, Ingty has spent his formative years in Delhi and has even trained at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai under the watchful eyes of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. “That was an amazing experience. Bedi sir told me that I should take their lessons seriously and those training sessions taught me a lot,” Ingty says.

Later, when he shifted to Assam, those tips by Lillee and Thomson actually helped him survive. “I waited for two seasons before I was included in the final eleven, and when I got a chance, I made sure I proved my mettle,” Ingty says. With a mix of pace and swing, Ingty soon became a talking point.

The sudden axe

His association with Assam continued for nearly six years but it did not end on a happy note.

When the BCCI recognised Meghalaya Cricket Association as an associate member in 2008, being a player from a ‘different state’, he could no longer play for Assam. Ingty still remembers how he was chucked out of the team.

When he made his debut for Assam in 2002-2003, Ingty was considered one of the promising talents.   -  SHAYAN ACHARYA

 

“The night before our season opener, I was told by Assam team management that I won’t be able to play for them anymore as Meghalaya was named an affiliated BCCI member. That’s how my dreams of playing Ranji Trophy crashed,” Ingty says.

It is a similar story for Lamare.

The batsman, who featured in three first-class matches and six List-A games for Assam, too had to give up the sport after Meghalaya came under the BCCI umbrella. “I never thought I would play again. So, when we heard that Meghalaya will participate in first-class tournaments, I thought it was my second chance,” Lamare says.

The cousins, however, did not want any favours. When the MCA organised selection trials a few months back, the two appeared for it and were chosen on the ‘basis of merit’. “I remember Mark called me up one day and said that he wants to play again and asked if I would be interested too. I was not too sure initially, but then, I thought why not give it a try? That’s how it all happened,” Lamare, who runs an adventure sport organisation in Shillong, says.

Fitness first

Returning to mainstream cricket was not easy, but the cousins left no stones unturned to be fit before the season. “At this stage, the main thing is about fitness. It is all in the mind. To play a four-day match is not easy, so you have to be physically and mentally strong,” Lamare says. Every morning the two sweated it out and hit the gym.

Lamare believes that one cannot be scared of something he enjoys. “There were questions whether I can still play at this level? But the fact that we were playing for the state, kept us going,” Lamare points out.

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His dream of leading the state will come true on Thursday when Meghalaya takes on Mizoram in the first match of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Nadiad. “We not only want to play, we also want to groom the guys, and help them get a better idea of first-class cricket,” the captain says.

On Monday, the team played a friendly match with a local side, where Ingty scalped three wickets and Lamare played a knock of 35 to help the side register a win. “It has been an amazing experience so far. We hope to keep it going,” Lamare says.

For the cousins, cricket runs in the blood. Lamare’s father, Peter, has also been a cricketer and is presently the assistant secretary of the MCA. He is also a certified curator.

Before taking the field on Thursday, Ingty plans to call up his mentor, Bedi. “Knowing Bedi sir, he would tell me — ‘What are you doing there? You should be coaching boys now, not playing with the kids’,” Ingty laughs.

But he is quick to add: “But I know, Bedi sir would be the happiest person to see me in the ground. What more can I ask for?”