Former India U19 star turned software engineer appointed as the next captain of the USA cricket team
Saurabh Netravalkar formerly played for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy.
Updated - Nov 4, 2018 12:18 pm
Saurabh Netravalkar was once part of India’s U19 XI which battled it out in the 2010 U19 World Cup, but he then set out to become a software engineer. However, he has essentially come back to where he started – with a zeal to play competitive cricket – only this time he’s got the captain’s hat on and will be leading the USA in their next tournament.
Netravalkar was appointed captain last month. But in his yesteryears, he was a Mumbai medium pacer, who then quit the game to study computer science at Cornell University. Standing tall at a height of 6 feet, the left-arm seamer was India’s highest wicket-taker for his team in the U19 2010 World Cup.
Interestingly he had dismissed two notable batsmen who would go on to represent their respective countries at the international level. Netravalkar had got rid of a young Joe Root, who would go on to captain England, and also Pakistani opener Ahmed Shehzad. Three years later, Netravalkar played his only Ranji Trophy game for Mumbai against Karnataka and bagged a three-for.
But Netravalkar wasn’t pleased with the course his cricketing career was taking, and therefore decided to step away from the sport. “I gave two years full-time to cricket but felt I wasn’t making it to the next level,” he told Times of India from San Francisco during a phone interview. But when he went to Cornell for Masters in 2015, he rediscovered cricket, which pushed him to prepare himself for a new journey.
Driving 12 hours for two weekend games
Even while working as a software engineer at Oracle, Netravalkar took the trouble to drive six hours from San Francisco to Los Angeles during weekends to play cricket. “On Friday, I used to leave a little early from office with a fellow player and drive to LA. We would play a 50-over game in LA on Saturday, then we would drive back in the night and play a 50-over game in San Francisco on Sunday. It was back to work on Monday. I put in a lot of effort which was noticed by the selectors. I got picked this January when I became eligible for national selection,” he said.
The USA has seen cricket grow drastically over the last few years. According to ICC statistics, the game is played in 48 states with 400 leagues. There are as many as 200,000 participants spread across 6,000 teams. The game has a fan following of anywhere between 22 million and 36 million. The national team is a mix of players who mostly originate from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan.
The team travels to Oman next week where they will take part in the ICC World Cricket League Division 3.