Kanwaljit Singh: ‘I always stayed positive’

“When I look back, I feel proud that I played the game the hard way,” writes Kanwaljit Singh.

"When I look back, I feel proud that I played the game the hard way," says Kanwaljit Singh.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The environment in the Secunderabad Cantonment Board, the area where I grew up, was never cricket-friendly. Honestly, I never thought of even playing the Ranji Trophy. Only when I started playing for the Nizam College in the HCA (Hyderabad Cricket Association) League, and after my first match against the State Bank of Hyderabad, when Abid Ali saab walked up to me and gave me words of encouragement, did I begin to feel that I can become a good cricketer.

Once I began playing regularly in the league I realised there was not much of a difference between me and the other bowlers. The fact that I had to fight for a slot in all the teams that I played in from my early days actually made me mentally tough and strong.

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Having played 20 Ranji Trophy seasons with distinction is something that I am proud of. And I must say that V. Ramnarayan (former Hyderabad off-spinner) was my biggest inspiration. He was such a class bowler and a perfect gentleman, always helping the youngsters. And, like me, he was also unlucky not to play for India!

Having done so well consistently, year after year, it could have been better. But I have no bitter feelings, for I always played for the team’s cause. Even in my last Ranji match, I took nine wickets against MP before being unceremoniously dropped from the Hyderabad team the next season.

Performances such as the 14-wicket haul against Karnataka in the 1997-98 Ranji semifinals at the Gymkhana ground in Secunderabad, though in a losing cause, and nine wickets against Tamil Nadu — when both Shivlal Yadav and Arshad Ayub played — in that must-win game in Trichy to qualify for the knock-out phase, kept me dreaming big and going.

When I look back, I feel proud that I played the game the hard way.

At the end of it all, there are no regrets, though the disappointment of missing out on the India cap will be there. But I always stayed positive, and thanks to cricket I made so many good friends.

Ranji performance

Matches:101; Wickets: 324; Best: 8-86; Average: 29.32.

As told to V. V. Subrahmanyam

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