When he is not playing cricket, Sandeep Kumar Thakur is busy chasing stories in and around Itanagar. A journalist by profession, the 25-year-old is also one of the key medium pacers of Arunachal Pradesh. As the State gears up to make its debut in the Ranji Trophy, Sandeep — who works with Arunachal Front , a local newspaper, as a reporter cum sub-editor and is also a stringer with DD NorthEast — is hoping to make every opportunity count.
“I have been playing since childhood and cricket is very close to my heart, so now that our team will participate in the Ranji Trophy, I want to soak in every moment of it,” Sandeep tells Sportstar .
Having played in the age-category in the NorthEast zone in the BCCI’s affiliate-member tournaments in 2012-13, Sandeep knows Ranji Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy will be different challenges, but is confident of a good performance. “We have good players. There could be early jitters, but we can do well,” he says.
After earning his Bachelor of Commerce degree, Sandeep completed his post-graduate diploma in journalism from a local university in 2014. He got the job with Arunachal Front the next year. “It is a daily newspaper, so there is pressure. But I try to manage it,” he says with a smile.
To ensure that cricket doesn’t impact his job, Sandeep starts his day early. “In the morning, I work for Doordarshan . As a stringer, I travel across Itanagar to get stories and after that I go home, change clothes and rush to training,” he says. With no proper ground available, the team trains in the hilly region of Nyorch, which is quite a distance (about 15 km) from Itanagar and Naharlagun.
Sandeep, who travels by his scooters, makes it a point to carry a spare jersey and some dry foods. “There are days when I don’t get time to visit home after completing the work for Doordarshan . So, in those days, dry foods help,” Sandeep says, adding that he tries not to be late for training. “This is very important for me and I cannot afford to be late. We train from 2pm and continue till sunset,” he says.
Though his official log-in time at office is 4pm, the seniors have been “kind enough” to relax the timings. “They all have been very supportive. Sir logsamajh te hain ,” he says.
His shifts usually end around 11.30pm, and it takes another hour to reach his home in Nirjuli — some 10 kilometres from his office in Naharlagun. “When you are at work, you don’t even realise how time flies. I write daily stories and also edit copies. That has a different charm,” he says.
With the selection trials set to be held on September 5, Sandeep is confident of making the cut for Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has already asked his bosses for a leave. “I think, woh log chhutti de dega . The bosses are supportive,” he says.
With no specific sports reporter in the team, Sandeep has to file reports on sporting events as well. “There have been times when I had to write about a match where I was the top performer. It does get a bit awkward at times,” he says with a smile on his face.
While he dreams of making a name for himself in cricket, Sandeep, who comes from a middle-class family — his father runs a business, while elder sister is a teacher at a local school — also wants to pursue journalism. “I want to play Ranji Trophy, that’s a dream, but I also love my job,” he says.
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