Domestic cricket debut at 45 – meet Akshaykumar

Manipur cricketer Thoudam Akshaykumar Singh maintains fitness by trekking and playing table tennis.

Akshaykumar Singh (left) and K. Homendro Meitei at a training session in Imphal.

When Thoudam Akshaykumar Singh started playing cricket in full throttle in the early 2000, he couldn’t crack mirrors as Manipur was only an Associate Member of the BCCI. There was not enough senior cricket in Imphal and Singh missed out on the exposure.

At 45, he made his domestic cricket debut for Manipur in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018-19.

The all-rounder turned out in four games. His performances may not have hit the headlines but living a dream at this age is a rare feat.

Singh functions differently, and perhaps that’s the secret to his longevity. All cricketers hit the gym. He does it too. But he also scales the foothills of Imphal as part of training regime and plays multiple sports.

“I start with jogging in the morning, then I play table tennis and cricket in the evening. I have been a state-level table tennis player also. I play that for my health,” he told Sportstar.

Born in Manipur, sports is in his genes. “That’s why people outside call us the powerhouse of sports. We have sportspersons representing India in football, boxing and now, cricket,” he added.

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The entire process — of team building, looking for domicile and professional players for the season and training under former India international Shiv Sundar Das — turned the clock backwards for Singh who grew swinging his bat in local cricket tournaments. “I don’t know whether I will make it to every game but I like what I have been seeing. It is exciting. I am working hard on my fitness to remain in contention,” he said.

If he did not play cricket, what did he do all these years? Well, he landed a job with the state government as accountant general through the sports quota.

Manipur’s inclusion in the BCCI calendar makes him emotional. “Playing for Manipur, after so many years, is an emotional moment,” said the right-handed batsman, who is also an effective spin bowler. His right-arm offbreak fetched him a 2-10 against Sikkim, where the opponent was eventually bowled out for 84.

Singh also cleared the beep test — a variant of the Yo Yo test — comfortably. There is no particular score in this test, but he achieved an ‘above average’ grade in the push-up and vertical jump section and an overall ‘good’.

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Skipper on the senior

Manipur skipper K. Homendro Meitei, 27, trains with Singh whenever there is a chance. “I have trekked with him many a times for fitness. We couldn’t go recently due to the rains. Looking at him, I also played other sports; like football and water polo. I also won the ‘best goalkeeper’ award in a corporate tournament,” he said.

Syed Mujibur Rahaman, who is 44, played in one game too.

A sports powerhouse in every way!