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Suresh Raina - Domestic cricket is a learning ground

India player and UP captain reflects on his journey
Suresh Raina of India raises his bat after scoring a half century during day two of the second test match between India and New Zealand held at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru on the 1st September 2012..Photo by Pal Pillai/BCCI/SPORTZPICS

I have learnt a lot from domestic cricket since the time I was very young. When I first played, I played a lot with international stars like, (Mohammad) Kaif bhai, Gyanendra Pandey, Rizwan Shamshad and Nikhil Chopra, who was also playing at the time. We had come from playing for India U-19. When you play domestic cricket you learn little things from senior players that help you.

Sometimes it is tough, but you learn. It reflects in your character. You have to keep up the intensity while you learn a lot of things along the way. Cricket is the one thing that is always on the mind whether the conditions are hot or cold or regardless of what else is going on. You enjoy it; it is your passion. It is in your thoughts even when you sleep; it is in your heart whether you are playing for India, UP or in the IPL or India ‘A’. I think it comes from within.

When you travel to various parts of the country you come across different things. There are different pitches and different challenges. You have to think and practice differently for each of them. A lot of different things start happening, but now everyone is a professional. With so much cricket being played all around, you too have to change your approach and thought process. For that half-an-hour in the night you think about the opposition’s bowling attack, what the pitch is like and how you will be preparing yourself. When you plan and get up in the morning it automatically works in your sub-conscious mind. Some are able to do it some are not. Some do it after coming to the ground, some do their thinking in their rooms and or some come for the match and then do it. It is a matter of mental strength for the player how he does it; whether he does it while talking to his wife, or discusses with a friend or while eating. Everyone will have their own way of doing it and preparing themselves.

There is a lot of cricket that one has to manage outside as well before entering the field. Playing domestic matches is a challenge in itself wherein there are adjustments to make. But when you are ready to go and want to play you can do it. When you are working on something and planning for something it works out, it comes naturally to me. Now everyone is a professional, a few days of practice and everyone is ready to shift gears as required. It is challenging but you have to go out there and play otherwise you will get caught in the trap of thinking.

You need to respect your team-mates, the game, as well as well as the umpires and everyone and everything around it. I have learnt all of that from playing in the Ranji Trophy. Now things have become even better. As a captain I just had one meeting with the umpires after so many years and things are different. There is difference in other things as well, cameras are put in place everywhere by BCCI and that is very good. Everything is going to the officials, they are watching everything. It’s very important to have a look into everything. It’s good to see that BCCI is placing so much importance on domestic cricket. 

The BCCI is also looking into like ball tampering and dissent shown to the umpire. When you are saying ‘no’ there is nobody there to cheer you up, you have to just pick yourself up. And when you are the captain of the side you lift others up as well (when things are not in your favour). It comes naturally to me and I always enjoyed that. 

I have learnt the good things, the respect from my seniors, and my dad. He always told me that one should respect their seniors no matter what. Even if they are abusing you or telling you something you don’t like, it will be good to just listen and never ever say anything back to them. The family culture has always been like that. I learnt the same in hostel as well. If anyone says anything to me it’s not good to talk back. I will listen. Sometimes it’s better to listen to some things no matter what. If it is good you can take it in, if it’s bad leave it. 

There are many things that you miss at the international level that you did while playing domestic cricket. Now I am learning good things from all the youngsters. Everything feels good for someone who has earned it from doing the hard yards at the grass root level. Playing at the domestic level is pretty tough, but hard work pays you off. There are many things in domestic cricket that are good for you and help you grow. You get to play with international stars. Then there are people like Reetinder Sodhi here, who are around. He is the third umpire for the match between Mumbai and UP. There is Mritunjay Tripathi, who is our coach and some others who are U-19 World Cup champions with me and you get to interact with people like them. 

You then get to see people from opposition teams sitting and having a good laugh and chatting during non-match days, off the field. At the Wankhede here, Rohit Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla are sitting together. That is a good and fun environment to be in. It always lightens things up. The same people who were sitting together are having a good time all of a sudden become fierce and competitive, looking very sharp on the field. 

Suresh Raina First Class records 

First-Class Career Batting and Fielding

M

I

NO

Runs

HS

Ave

100

50

SRate

Ct

 

87

143

9

5796

204*

43.25

13

37

61.16

95

First-Class Career Bowling

Balls

Mdns

Runs

Wkts

BB

Ave

5wI

10wM

SRate

Econ

 

2911

81

1448

36

31-Mar

40.22

0

0

80.86

2.98


Suresh Raina Under 19 records 

U19 Test Career Batting and Fielding

M

I

NO

Runs

HS

Ave

100

50

SRate

Ct

 

3

4

0

179

72

44.75

0

2

51.58

1

U19 Test Career Bowling

Balls

Mdns

Runs

Wkts

BB

Ave

5wI

10wM

SRate

Econ

 

132

6

87

1

31-1

87

0

0

132

3.95

U19 ODI Career Batting and Fielding

M

I

NO

Runs

HS

Ave

100

50

SRate

Ct

 

14

13

0

328

90

25.23

0

3

80

11

U19 ODI Career Bowling

Balls

Mdns

Runs

Wkts

BB

Ave

4wI

5wI

SRate

Econ

 

540

7

330

7

23-2

47.14

0

0

77.14

3.66

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Rohan Gavaskar - My Ranji memories

Rohan Gavaskar played domestic cricket for 15 years. Here he recalls his days with the Bengal team

The Ranji Trophy has changed dramatically from the time I made my debut. Back then we travelled by train. Now you can reach any city in a matter of hours. During my time, the entire team would assemble at the Howrah Junction. Our landmark was the big clock and all of us would assemble at a certain time.

Talking about travel, in my first year, I actually paid more than what I got from my Ranji Trophy fees. I stayed in Mumbai and had to fly down to Calcutta (now Kolkata). It was expensive to travel by flight and you did not think of these things because it was an honour to play the Ranji Trophy and represent a team like Bengal.

When you represent a different state, there are bound to be issues like language and food, but fortunately for me, I never had that problem as all the players either spoke Hindi or English.

Before joining the senior side, I had only known Nikhil Haldipur from my U-19 days. I had heard of Devang Gandhi and Utpal Chatterjee but I had never met them. I must say the Bengal team was really welcoming and looked after me very well. They went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and saw to it that I was well settled. Very soon we developed a great bond and there was a sense of oneness.

The media tracked the performance of the Bengal team and we always got good coverage as in those days the internet was not widely used. Many young players maintained scrapbooks and would take a cut-out of their articles. I too maintained one as there was no internet back then. Going through scrapbooks refreshes your memory and can help you when things are not going your way. I remember even the junior cricket in Mumbai got excellent coverage. As a young cricketer in Mumbai when I did well, there would be articles the next day in the newspapers.

Having played for Bengal for 15 years, I feel we did fairly well. We made it to the finals for two consecutive seasons in 2005-06 against Uttar Pradesh and 2006-07 against Mumbai which is an excellent achievement.

I have had many happy moments, but my one big regret is not winning the Ranji Trophy with Bengal. It is always a cricketer’s dream to win the First-class tournament. Unfortunately, we came close twice but could not win it.

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