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In quest of opportunities, domestic cricketers don’t mind moving states

Young cricketers across India are switching states unabashedly in hopes of getting game time in other states.

Robin Uthappa Kolkata Knight Riders
After 15 years with Karnataka, Robin Uthappa has decided to leave his home state. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The trend of moving states and playing as a professional for a lesser known state towards the end of the career is an age long concept in the Ranji Trophy. Cricketers not only prolong their cricket careers but also earn an extra buck for appearing for a struggling state. People like Chandu Borde, Sandeep Patil, Virender Sehwag, Aakash Chopra and many more have moved states in the last quarter of their careers.

Established cricketers at their peaks shifting base

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These days a lot of young as well as established cricketers are migrating to other states to seek more opportunities. There are no sentiments for the home state in today’s day and age cricketers. They want to excel and don’t mind travelling a few thousand kilometres in pursuit of success. Jalaj Saxena, an all-rounder from Madhya Pradesh shifted base to Kerala in 2015 after turning up for his home team for almost a decade. At 30, Saxena wanted to explore more opportunities and possibly catch the attention of the national selectors by helping Kerala to a promotion from the Plate division.

“It wasn’t an overnight decision. I spent many sleepless nights thinking about the move because there were a lot of questions in my head,” the 30-year-old reflected. “I was taking a huge risk, shifting from an established, elite group team to a side which was in the plate division. Looking back, I have no regrets because my dream is to play for the country one day and I’m working on it. I felt that if I could lead a team like Kerala from Group C to the upper division, my performance would get recognised a lot more,” pointed out the top-order batsman who is also an off-spinner.

Youngsters following suit

After a 15-year career with Karnataka, Robin Uthappa has sought an NOC from his home state. Uthappa is said to have offers from a couple of states and Kerala is widely tipped as the state the 31-year old will end up with. A cricketer as young as 17, Sarfaraz Khan left Mumbai for UP in 2015 as he was promised game time by the latter state. Aged 23, Hanuma Vihari has already represented Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh. The crust of all migrations these days is to get a lot of game time instead of warming the benches at your home state.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, a veteran of 24 Tests, started playing for Bengal two years ago after plying his trade for Hyderabad for 10 years. Ojha threw light on how young cricketers are very bold these days and not sentimental at all for their home state.

“Apart from the cricket part of it, it is an emotional journey you embark on. Over the past few years, many youngsters are turning pro. They are bolder now and know what is best for their careers. Emotions don’t come in their way while making career moves. That’s how it is in countries like England and Australia, and the IPL has helped people overcome the fears. Also, the IPL has made many players financially secure, which allows them to take the risk. For younger players, the fact that performances on domestic circuit translate into IPL contracts is a huge motivation,” explained Ojha.

In a cricket fanatic country with so much competition, a cricketer has to embark on a journey which is not filled with emotions. They have to get past barriers like language and food in their adopted states during their journey to the top.

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