‘I am 30 now and it is important I play the whole season’: Siddhesh Lad on why he shifted from Mumbai to Goa

The 30-year-old Lad had obtained a No Objection Certificate from the Mumbai Cricket Association earlier this week

Siddhesh Lad has played 61 first-class matches in his career so far, but he hasn’t played a single first-class match since the pandemic.

Siddhesh Lad has played 61 first-class matches in his career so far, but he hasn’t played a single first-class match since the pandemic. | Photo Credit: VIVEK BENDRE

The 30-year-old Lad had obtained a No Objection Certificate from the Mumbai Cricket Association earlier this week

Siddhesh Lad will be moving on from Mumbai after nine years and will feature for Goa in the upcoming domestic cricket season. Once considered the ‘crisis man’ of Mumbai cricket, the 30-year-old Lad did not make it to Mumbai’s red-ball team post the pandemic.

RELATED: Siddhesh Lad to play for Goa in upcoming domestic season

Lad, who played 61 first-class games for Mumbai, amassed 4,058 runs. In 39 List A games, he scored 1,140. While he admits it was an emotional decision to part ways with Mumbai, Lad is looking forward to the new challenge.

In a chat with  Sportstar from the United Kingdom on Thursday, Lad admitted that instead of waiting for an ‘opportunity to play’ for Mumbai again, he decided to shift his allegiance to Goa to get more game time.

Excerpts…

Having played for Mumbai for nearly a decade, it must be an emotional decision to move on to a new team…

Yes, it is a bit difficult to leave Mumbai after playing for so many years. I played my school cricket and played Ranji Trophy for seven-eight years, so it was difficult. But somewhere, I want to play the whole season. In the past two-three years, I have been in and out of the team. I did not have one good season and then came back, but I thought that I am 30 now and it is important I play the whole season. That’s why I decided to explore more opportunities.

What is the role that you are looking at in Goa? Also, how are you planning the season?

I will be one of the most experienced players on the Goan team. I feel my role will be to bring the team together - what the senior players normally do. Once I join the team (later this month ahead of the JP Atray Trophy) and talk to the coaches, I will be able to know a bit more about the role. But I will try and talk to the youngsters and bring the team together - that’s something I am looking forward.

When did you decide that it is time to move on from Mumbai? Who were the people you spoke to before taking this decision?

I spoke to my dad (veteran coach Dinesh Lad), Praveen Amre sir, who was also my coach when I was young. I spoke to a lot of my friends who are senior to me and everyone wanted me to play the whole season and they felt that it was not the age for me to be in and out of the team. Everyone I spoke to had the same opinion about it and that’s why I decided to go ahead.

Did you also speak to your Mumbai team-mates or the coaches and the selectors before making up your mind?

Yes, I did speak to a lot of my Mumbai mates who I have played with for so many years and they know me personally. Abhishek Nayar, Aditya Tare, Shardul (Thakur), Shreyas (Iyer) - and they felt the same. I did not play a single Ranji Trophy game post the pandemic.

And I have fared well in Ranji Trophy in the past. A couple of years ago, I was part of the India A squad and played a series against Sri Lanka. I played a warm-up game against South Africa when they had come for the Test match and scored three fifties in four innings, so it was going well. But I had a bad season and did not play any Ranji Trophy games after that, so I thought of taking this decision.

Mumbai’s Aditya Tare and Siddesh Lad run between wickets during their final match against Delhi in Vijay Hazare trophy final match, at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

Mumbai’s Aditya Tare and Siddesh Lad run between wickets during their final match against Delhi in Vijay Hazare trophy final match, at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: AP

Red-ball cricket has been one of your favourite formats. So, when you were left out of the team for the Ranji Trophy, how did you deal with it?

It was very difficult and people even asked me whether I was still playing cricket because they had not seen me in any competitive games. In the last two seasons, I decided to come to the UK and reconnect with the game. Playing in the UK is a different challenge, even though the level of cricket is better in India because I play the premier club tournaments there.

But the conditions are different in the UK - it is cold and cloudy - so there are a lot of challenges, the wickets are damp because of the weather and you being a professional player of the side, you have to bail out the side and always contribute. There are a lot of learnings and somewhere it’s going to help me in domestic cricket.

When you look back, what do you think went wrong for you in Mumbai? Was there too much competition for a slot or do you think there were any other reasons?

Mumbai did well last season and there were a lot of youngsters in the team. I am sure the youngsters will get into the team before I do and I completely agree with that because they did so well last season.

But I didn’t want to wait here for my opportunity, so I thought I would rather take up the new opportunity and play the whole season. It’s the same Elite division and I will compete against the same teams that will play Mumbai, so it will be the same level of cricket. But it was more about the assured opportunity to play the whole season, whereas, in Mumbai, I will have to play club cricket and make a comeback. It is fine as I did the same in the last Times Shield that I played and scored two big hundreds. But still, it’s not easy to be back in the team once you are out.

Also, I feel there will at least be a couple of players from the Indian team who will play the whole season, so it would be a bit difficult to make a comeback. So, I decided to move on rather than wait for an opportunity in Mumbai.

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