Warming up September 9, 2008

Season's greetings

The first domestic season after the IPL comes with many promises and challenges
28

Hi everyone

The new season of domestic cricket kicks off next week when Delhi, my team, take on the champion team from Pakistan at the Kotla. To be honest it seems like only yesterday that we were packing our bags after the last game of the IPL, but that's the way cricket is these days. We are certainly not complaining, though. The more cricket we get to play (we being those playing first-class cricket), the more opportunities we get to perform and get noticed, meanwhile also earning a bit of money, which is vital for a first-class cricketer.

There's never really an off-season these days, even for first-class cricketers unless they choose it to be that way. As soon as the season is over, a few go to England to play club cricket during the summer while the rest play for the organisations they work for in summer tournaments.

The ones who go to England have it a little easy as the matches are played only on weekends. During the week, they can plan their off-season training schedule as they desire, but life isn't that rosy for the ones working for different organisations back home. They find it tough to keep going in the same vein after the gruelling first-class season has finally come to an end. There are obviously a few niggles following a long season, especially if one has done well and spent long hours on the field, and a breather is almost necessary. But the organisations they're working for would have none of it. They pay these players round the year only to have them playing during this off-season. So fatigue and niggles be damned, they must turn up and do well for their employers. You can't always get what you want.

I didn't go to England this year as I had had a very long season that started in September last year and finished in May. I wanted to give myself a break, and hence chose to stay in Delhi and spend some time with my family and friends, and more importantly away from the game for a while. One needs to unwind properly in order to be 100% ready for the next assignment. If the previous assignment happens to be a nine-month-long first-class season, if you add the IPL to it, one must regroup mentally and physically to find that hunger again before embarking on the journey for the next season.

But being away from the game doesn't mean not doing anything. My mantra during the off-season is something that my dad learnt during his days in the Air Force: the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. We might not be preparing for a war, but a first-class season can come close to one. So while I stayed away from active cricket for a couple of months, I spent a lot of time trying to get my body in shape, hoping that it ensures an injury-free season. Not that it works that way all the time, but it often does.

This being the first domestic season after the IPL, I'm told there will be a lot more people following the cricket this year as some of the domestic players have become household names after their performances in the IPL. Apparently people would want to know a lot more about these newborn stars, and therefore would follow their progress even when they're playing for their respective state sides instead of their franchises. I'm also told that all this attention would put more pressure on the guys to perform in the domestic circuit this year.

If this turns out to be the case, all of us who have been playing first-class cricket for empty stands so far would be very happy indeed. We'd be delighted if instead of having to look for our names in the newspapers when we've done well, we find our performances played up nicely. And if all this adds a bit of extra pressure, we're more than willing to endure that.

This is the journey I'm going to embark on once again, but this year I won't be alone; I'll share it with all of you. Welcome aboard.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jigish on September 11, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    You did an amazing job opening for India in Australia. Here's wishing you'll be back in the test team. I've become a fan of yours just for that alone. Really good blogs/articles are another reason I am a fan of yours. Good luck for season and hope you do well.

  • Sekhar on September 11, 2008, 5:56 GMT

    Excellent piece, Aakash. I hope this becomes a diary of Indian domestic cricket that will be published in Cricinfo as and when the matches are played. As a fellow reader pointed out, I wish Indian domestic cricket is covered at a deeper level in Cricinfo. Keep it up. I look forward to the day when the Delhi Dadas, Viru, Gautam, Aakash and Ishant play together.

  • Ajit Menon on September 10, 2008, 13:48 GMT

    Hope that you liked the bats we made for you (Reebok ones) and that you get loads of runs with these sticks this season. Best wishes always. Ajit

  • Madhu Kiran.R on September 10, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    Hi Akash

    You were one of those few unglamorus cricketer to have played for India with your sheer talent(but who cares talent, when you are good looking). I wish you were playing for India for long so that you dont get time to write blog, but that's a paradoxy for us. Well I have been reading your blog since HT days and was really missing it when it stopped. What a relief to see you write again. What's more its not ghost writing. Akash, All the very best to you for the first class season lying ahead and wish to see you in Indian Whites this year atleast,

  • Madhu Kiran.R on September 10, 2008, 12:02 GMT

    Hi Aakash

    You were one of those few unglamorous cricketer to have played for India with your sheer talent(but who cares talent, when you are good looking). I wish you were playing for India for long so that you didn't get time to write blog, but that's a paradox for us. Well I have been reading your blog since HT days and was really missing it when it stopped. What a relief to see you write again. What's more its not ghost writing. Aakash, all the very best to you for the first-class season lying ahead and wish to see you in Indian Whites this year at least

  • abhinav anil on September 10, 2008, 11:37 GMT

    Dear Aakash, It's nice to read that you are still looking forward to a new cricket season. I am an avid cricket watcher and have liked your unselfish style of batting ever since u debuted for India against New Zealand in 2003. I really loved d way you took Brett lee's blows on your body at Melbourne in that Australia series, and still carried on. Your writing carries the same honest essence. I just hope u can find a way of getting back into the Indian Test side sooner rather than later. The team needs your solid batting, and amazing short-leg fielding.

  • T Rajendran on September 10, 2008, 9:51 GMT

    One player who never got his due. Best short-leg fielder for India since Eknath Solkar and a man who did the dirty work at the top of the order. Unfortunately Aakash, getting yourself dirty and taking the blows for the team aren't enough in Indian cricket. Such cricketers are just one or two bad innings away from being dropped. Good luck though and I hope you harbour ambitions of playing for India still. Because you are still bloody good!

  • Matthew Wood on September 10, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    Excellent piece Aakash. I look forward to reading your blog during the season. Wishing you every success and keeping my fingers crossed that international selection is just around the corner!!!

  • puja sharma on September 10, 2008, 7:47 GMT

    Hey, it's always a pleasure to read to read what you write, wishing you all the very best for your book and above all, all the best for the game. Hope you get the much deserved opportunities soon... and maybe you could score 1300 + 1300 runs to finally get the selectors' attention and a place in the national side.

  • Mukund Rajan on September 10, 2008, 6:08 GMT

    Aakash- Thanks for writing on the domestic cricket scene in India.Having played junior national-level cricket, I feel it's really unfortunate that domestic cricket is not given it's due. I had been to a Deodhar Trophy match between Central and North in Bangalore and it was shocking to see that only 50-60 people turned out to watch it.The IPL, which was held immediately afterwards, had 50-60 thousand people turning out every match.The standard of cricket will improve by leaps and bounds if people start taking interest in domestic cricket and realise that the pay and the money that it offers is much more competitive now. This will lead to more people taking up the game as a profession and not leave it due to financial constraints.

  • jigish on September 11, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    You did an amazing job opening for India in Australia. Here's wishing you'll be back in the test team. I've become a fan of yours just for that alone. Really good blogs/articles are another reason I am a fan of yours. Good luck for season and hope you do well.

  • Sekhar on September 11, 2008, 5:56 GMT

    Excellent piece, Aakash. I hope this becomes a diary of Indian domestic cricket that will be published in Cricinfo as and when the matches are played. As a fellow reader pointed out, I wish Indian domestic cricket is covered at a deeper level in Cricinfo. Keep it up. I look forward to the day when the Delhi Dadas, Viru, Gautam, Aakash and Ishant play together.

  • Ajit Menon on September 10, 2008, 13:48 GMT

    Hope that you liked the bats we made for you (Reebok ones) and that you get loads of runs with these sticks this season. Best wishes always. Ajit

  • Madhu Kiran.R on September 10, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    Hi Akash

    You were one of those few unglamorus cricketer to have played for India with your sheer talent(but who cares talent, when you are good looking). I wish you were playing for India for long so that you dont get time to write blog, but that's a paradoxy for us. Well I have been reading your blog since HT days and was really missing it when it stopped. What a relief to see you write again. What's more its not ghost writing. Akash, All the very best to you for the first class season lying ahead and wish to see you in Indian Whites this year atleast,

  • Madhu Kiran.R on September 10, 2008, 12:02 GMT

    Hi Aakash

    You were one of those few unglamorous cricketer to have played for India with your sheer talent(but who cares talent, when you are good looking). I wish you were playing for India for long so that you didn't get time to write blog, but that's a paradox for us. Well I have been reading your blog since HT days and was really missing it when it stopped. What a relief to see you write again. What's more its not ghost writing. Aakash, all the very best to you for the first-class season lying ahead and wish to see you in Indian Whites this year at least

  • abhinav anil on September 10, 2008, 11:37 GMT

    Dear Aakash, It's nice to read that you are still looking forward to a new cricket season. I am an avid cricket watcher and have liked your unselfish style of batting ever since u debuted for India against New Zealand in 2003. I really loved d way you took Brett lee's blows on your body at Melbourne in that Australia series, and still carried on. Your writing carries the same honest essence. I just hope u can find a way of getting back into the Indian Test side sooner rather than later. The team needs your solid batting, and amazing short-leg fielding.

  • T Rajendran on September 10, 2008, 9:51 GMT

    One player who never got his due. Best short-leg fielder for India since Eknath Solkar and a man who did the dirty work at the top of the order. Unfortunately Aakash, getting yourself dirty and taking the blows for the team aren't enough in Indian cricket. Such cricketers are just one or two bad innings away from being dropped. Good luck though and I hope you harbour ambitions of playing for India still. Because you are still bloody good!

  • Matthew Wood on September 10, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    Excellent piece Aakash. I look forward to reading your blog during the season. Wishing you every success and keeping my fingers crossed that international selection is just around the corner!!!

  • puja sharma on September 10, 2008, 7:47 GMT

    Hey, it's always a pleasure to read to read what you write, wishing you all the very best for your book and above all, all the best for the game. Hope you get the much deserved opportunities soon... and maybe you could score 1300 + 1300 runs to finally get the selectors' attention and a place in the national side.

  • Mukund Rajan on September 10, 2008, 6:08 GMT

    Aakash- Thanks for writing on the domestic cricket scene in India.Having played junior national-level cricket, I feel it's really unfortunate that domestic cricket is not given it's due. I had been to a Deodhar Trophy match between Central and North in Bangalore and it was shocking to see that only 50-60 people turned out to watch it.The IPL, which was held immediately afterwards, had 50-60 thousand people turning out every match.The standard of cricket will improve by leaps and bounds if people start taking interest in domestic cricket and realise that the pay and the money that it offers is much more competitive now. This will lead to more people taking up the game as a profession and not leave it due to financial constraints.

  • k.prasanna raghavan on September 10, 2008, 4:50 GMT

    All the best Aakash. I am looking forward to the day the three Delhi players, Sehwag, Aakash and Gautam, come in at 1, 2 and 3 for India. That achievement will be the real boost for all first-class players to boost not only themselves but also fellow team-mates and make cricket look like a team game.

  • Rai on September 10, 2008, 4:34 GMT

    I wish you good luck for new domestic season and hopefully you can repeat you success of last season and winning Ranji again for Delhi. As for chances of getting selected for India again I think there is slim chance for you and reason is worse 4(fab 4), you and your team-mates. As your batting style is very much perfect to open in Test matches still selectors don't get excited about this. As far your team-mates are concerned you in Indian team quota system there is already surplus supply from Delhi in Indian team. Sehwag, Gambhir, Ishant are regular and now Virat due to his popularity in youths and girls is going to be regular. Even Shikhar is ahead of you in wings because of his style. But don't give hope Akash you never know. Keep playing well. I have mention about style, popularity and quota system to get selected in team, you don't think now Indian team run like bollywood, and now new reason of bollywood style Ask how Jaydev Shah get selected in India A team.

  • Akshay Lokapally on September 10, 2008, 3:52 GMT

    Dear Aakash bhaiyya, I used to watch you at the Sonnet Club and always found you a very warm-hearted person. It reflects in your thoughts in this piece. I love domestic cricket because it brings the best out of a player since each plays for the other and it will be great to follow it through your eyes. I will look forward to every write-up from you because I know it will be honest and informative. I am sure this season you get back to the national team too. How long can the selectors ignore a quality batsman? My best wishes to you Aakash bhaiyya.---Akshay Lokapally.

  • Jayanth R on September 10, 2008, 3:06 GMT

    Now that the 'Fab Four' are nearing the ends of their careers, we should try out someone like Aakash Chopra in place of Rahul Dravid. He is most suitable and adaptable for the role of a No. 3. Any views???

  • Aniruddha on September 10, 2008, 2:43 GMT

    Hi Aakash, Welcome back. I have always believed that you were unfairly dropped during the Pakistan tour because of Ganguly (Yuvraj chosen to open so Ganguly could fit in). It is my assumption here that Sourav tried to undo the wrong by including you in the Knight Riders team. I know it's no compensation but hopefully you can leave the past behind and really score big runs again like the last season. All the best.

  • adib on September 10, 2008, 0:30 GMT

    Good Luck Aakash. I have not forgotten your performances in Australia in 2003-04. Your partnership was a reason we came close to winning that series. Keep the faith and good luck

  • Abhishek on September 9, 2008, 18:42 GMT

    Nice article, it's really nice to know how the domestic player feels. The coverage Indian domestic cricket gets is really not good, specially at Cricinfo site. For ex. the recent Moin Ud daula trophy has a placeholder at cricinfo, but it's fully empty for this season and only one scorecard of previous season is updated. Also, the U-19 trophy like CBT and others are not covered at all. It'll be great if players like Aakash and others may influence cricinfo to cover Indian domestic cricket at deeper level.

    Cheers, Abhishek

  • Vineet on September 9, 2008, 17:25 GMT

    I wish you luck for your forthcoming book and wish that you get to play few more Tests before you call it a day:)

  • U Azmeh on September 9, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Good luck Aakash. This is actually my first post on Cricinfo, but I felt compelled to write and wish you all the best of luck. You have been dealt a very raw deal by the selectors yet have managed to remain remarkably reflective and calm with regard to the situation. Keep going, keep believing and I hope to see you opening for India in whites in the not-too-distant future. Best of luck for this season.

    U Azmeh

    London

  • Carpe Diem on September 9, 2008, 17:07 GMT

    It will be really nice to read Aakash's thoughts on the happenings in Ranji cricket and all of us stand to benefit from his insightful opinion. I've always appreciated the yeoman service rendered by Aakash for the benefit of the Indian team and was always pained to see pointed remarks towards his batting style. I am of the opinion that we need someone who is rock solid up front to face the new-ball bowlers. But we, the people of India, have always been attracted towards flashy artists and always overlook the fact that in a team we also need batsmen capable of biding their time. For how long are we going to rely on converted openers? Anyhow let me not rile everyone to such an extent that no one reads it :) In fact I had really enjoyed the posts by Sanjay Bangar and was a fan of his witty writing style. I hope Aakash will bring his own flavour to this section and that we will have a good time reading his musings. Looking forward to some interesting articles. Cheer Carpe Diem

  • Gargesh on September 9, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    Aakash, you are too good a player. When the whole world goes gaga over T20 cricket, your rock-solid defence is a treat to the eyes. Keep rocking bold man, especially while playing for our Dada's KKR...

  • Vik on September 9, 2008, 15:53 GMT

    I had been following your awesome writing from from HT days, when you wrote from England. Welcome here. I would love to read more of your comments here and also the upcoming book. You certainly have great writing skills, and you can give Chetan Bhagat a run for his money.

    Your cricket batting is also not too bad, especially since you are playing for my KRR IPL Team!

  • Yuyu on September 9, 2008, 15:32 GMT

    Awesome! Nice introductory piece. Looking forward to more!

  • Homer on September 9, 2008, 14:28 GMT

    Congratulations Aakash on a very productive Ranji season and for winning the Ranji Trophy..

    Savour it, because that is the last time Delhi is coming anywhere close to the Trophy!

    Cheers,

  • Rica Roy on September 9, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    "the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war".... it is an awesome mantra! Well, if this is the teaser to 'beyond the blues' then I am preparing myself for another fantastic read. Keep blogging:-)

  • Manoj Joshi on September 9, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    Dear Aakash,

    I know you are a good player and a superb fielder. You have not got your dues, but I know your day will come and you will shine. I was also a cricket player and wanted to play for country, but our social system is such that I could not do it. But my feelings are with you and keep on going. All the best to you. Regards

    Manoj Joshi Architect ?????

  • Shefali on September 9, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    The domestic season is upon us again, which is a good sign for all the players hoping to make a name and leave a mark. Good luck to the Delhi team

  • Deepak Shah on September 9, 2008, 13:30 GMT

    What a lovely piece from a well-rounded cricketer. I am one of those few people who love to watch domestic cricket (real cricket) more than ODIs and 20-20 circuses. Aakash's performance last year was simply awesome, and he even surprised a lot of detractors with a great performance in the one-day format. Delhi owed a great part of their victory to him. I hope he comes to Mumbai to play this year so that I can watch him. Or better still, he doesn't come so that it will be easier on Mumbai bowlers (my team), and also perhaps because he would have made it to the India squad. Aakash, you deserve to get back as India needs a solid opener like you. What's more, you are the best close-catcher in India. I am sure our spinners will appreciate your presence too. All the best for the rest of the season. Do keep blogging. I look forward to reading about how your season goes.

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  • Deepak Shah on September 9, 2008, 13:30 GMT

    What a lovely piece from a well-rounded cricketer. I am one of those few people who love to watch domestic cricket (real cricket) more than ODIs and 20-20 circuses. Aakash's performance last year was simply awesome, and he even surprised a lot of detractors with a great performance in the one-day format. Delhi owed a great part of their victory to him. I hope he comes to Mumbai to play this year so that I can watch him. Or better still, he doesn't come so that it will be easier on Mumbai bowlers (my team), and also perhaps because he would have made it to the India squad. Aakash, you deserve to get back as India needs a solid opener like you. What's more, you are the best close-catcher in India. I am sure our spinners will appreciate your presence too. All the best for the rest of the season. Do keep blogging. I look forward to reading about how your season goes.

  • Shefali on September 9, 2008, 14:02 GMT

    The domestic season is upon us again, which is a good sign for all the players hoping to make a name and leave a mark. Good luck to the Delhi team

  • Manoj Joshi on September 9, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    Dear Aakash,

    I know you are a good player and a superb fielder. You have not got your dues, but I know your day will come and you will shine. I was also a cricket player and wanted to play for country, but our social system is such that I could not do it. But my feelings are with you and keep on going. All the best to you. Regards

    Manoj Joshi Architect ?????

  • Rica Roy on September 9, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    "the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war".... it is an awesome mantra! Well, if this is the teaser to 'beyond the blues' then I am preparing myself for another fantastic read. Keep blogging:-)

  • Homer on September 9, 2008, 14:28 GMT

    Congratulations Aakash on a very productive Ranji season and for winning the Ranji Trophy..

    Savour it, because that is the last time Delhi is coming anywhere close to the Trophy!

    Cheers,

  • Yuyu on September 9, 2008, 15:32 GMT

    Awesome! Nice introductory piece. Looking forward to more!

  • Vik on September 9, 2008, 15:53 GMT

    I had been following your awesome writing from from HT days, when you wrote from England. Welcome here. I would love to read more of your comments here and also the upcoming book. You certainly have great writing skills, and you can give Chetan Bhagat a run for his money.

    Your cricket batting is also not too bad, especially since you are playing for my KRR IPL Team!

  • Gargesh on September 9, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    Aakash, you are too good a player. When the whole world goes gaga over T20 cricket, your rock-solid defence is a treat to the eyes. Keep rocking bold man, especially while playing for our Dada's KKR...

  • Carpe Diem on September 9, 2008, 17:07 GMT

    It will be really nice to read Aakash's thoughts on the happenings in Ranji cricket and all of us stand to benefit from his insightful opinion. I've always appreciated the yeoman service rendered by Aakash for the benefit of the Indian team and was always pained to see pointed remarks towards his batting style. I am of the opinion that we need someone who is rock solid up front to face the new-ball bowlers. But we, the people of India, have always been attracted towards flashy artists and always overlook the fact that in a team we also need batsmen capable of biding their time. For how long are we going to rely on converted openers? Anyhow let me not rile everyone to such an extent that no one reads it :) In fact I had really enjoyed the posts by Sanjay Bangar and was a fan of his witty writing style. I hope Aakash will bring his own flavour to this section and that we will have a good time reading his musings. Looking forward to some interesting articles. Cheer Carpe Diem

  • U Azmeh on September 9, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Good luck Aakash. This is actually my first post on Cricinfo, but I felt compelled to write and wish you all the best of luck. You have been dealt a very raw deal by the selectors yet have managed to remain remarkably reflective and calm with regard to the situation. Keep going, keep believing and I hope to see you opening for India in whites in the not-too-distant future. Best of luck for this season.

    U Azmeh

    London