Rajinder Goel: ‘Playing in the Ranji was my goal’

The tournament was amazingly competitive because each one was trying to make an impression in order to earn the India cap. By Rajinder Goel.

"The tournament has become more competitive now, and I feel happy to see the much improved facilities," says Rajinder Goel.   -  THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

When I was growing up, playing in the Ranji Trophy was my goal. If you had to test your skill, you had to play in the Ranji Trophy. The tournament was amazingly competitive because each one was trying to make an impression in order to earn the India cap. You had to perform well to move to the next level.

Of course, the tournament has become more competitive now, and I feel happy to see the much improved facilities.

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When I was playing in the Ranji Trophy, I received Rs. 5 per day as match fee. If the match finished in two days, we would lose the money. The match fee was later increased to Rs. 10, and that to us was such a luxury. You won’t believe, when playing at small centres we had to gear up for the match in a different way. We had to often travel by bus, mostly standing, and by train in unreserved compartment. We would stay in cheap hotels.

Once, in Patiala, we stayed in a big hall where 15 cots were laid out. And you won’t believe who occupied the centre cot of that royal arrangement — my captain Tiger (Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi). He insisted on staying with the team. This should help one understand the respect that the Ranji Trophy had.

Ranji performance — Matches: 123; Wickets: 637; Best: 8-55; Average: 17.28.

As told to Vijay Lokapally

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