If you want to play cricket, think about playing for India: Abdul Monayem’s mantra to youngsters

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Kolkata: A Former cricketer and one of the most successful coaches of Bengal, Abdul Monayem is dear to each and every cricketer in – starting from a budding youngster to some established names in Bengal and Indian cricket. The best part of Monayem is that he works with the youngsters at the grassroots level because he believes if that area can be made strong at the start, the tree will grow even stronger. He also broke the dominance of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in Kolkata club cricket when he guided a young Bhawanipore side to the title twice in recent years. Sportslight Media caught up with one of the successful coaches of ‘Kolkata Club Cricket’ in an exclusive interaction about Bengal, women’s cricket and much more. Excerpts…

The 2019-20 season has been breakthrough a year for Bengal cricket with so many young talents coming up. What’s your view on the upcoming Ranji season?

Last year a great thing happened, we had a great comeback. Initially, we didn’t do well during the one-days, but we used to be good at it. But the team made an outstanding comeback, on the back of some individual performances like Anushtup Majumder, Shahbaz Ahmed and senior player like Manoj Tewari scoring 300 runs in an innings. If someone makes 250-300 runs, it really boosts up the team. The players played like an unit and the person who has built the unit is Arun Lal. Because of Lalji, we can say the Bengal team has made a comeback. It has also given us hope. Even we have found some talents who can boost up the Bengal team, like Ishan Porel, Shahbaz Ahmed and Akashdeep, especially a youngster who made his debut in the final game –Sudip Gharami. I genuinely expect a lot from Gharami, a young guy from Naihati, brought up in a very poor family. So these players are definitely giving us a lot of hope. They are attached to Bengal cricket from the very grassroots level. We are getting inspired.

Monayem with Arun Lal

What are your takes on upcoming cricketers who can knock to the senior Bengal team ?

We are still unsure about the upcoming season. We don’t know when the pandemic will end, or when the government will issue the schedule. But we can see games happening in England, the Indian Premier League will start. But of course, there will be a start. If you see U-19, U-23 players from the Bengal team under Sourashish Lahiri, they became one-day champion. There are some players who are very talented. I can see an amazing future in Akashdeep, you can call him the next generation of Bengal cricket as well. Even, Sudeep Chatterjee has also made a comeback and gave some outstanding performances during season. COVID 19 has made a pause for us, but still, we hope once the cricket starts, we may expect some great new talents for the senior Bengal side.

 After Manoj Tewari, Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami, new talents are getting a chance to play in the IPL. How do you view this increase in the numbers from Bengal?

Definitely, this time two new players Ishan Porel and Shahbaz Ahmed will play in the IPL. They are extremely talented and even if they don’t get any chance, that will also help them by sharing the dressing room with the world class players, which will definitely give them a huge moral boost and in the end it will be profitable for the Bengal cricket also. Now you see Jasprit Bumrah played in the IPL and now he is one of the best bowlers in the world and even Hardik Pandeya is also one of the IPL products.

You have always invested your time in youth. How important is the development of youth necessary to make a better team?

It’s very important. The next generation will be good. So gradually we can expect betterment and that is what’s happening. It is the duty of seniors, to nurture the next generation so that they can be better, we always want to see the new world, next-generation playing good. Not only me but so many seniors think about the next generation. We should, the seniors and coaches should nurture the next generation because they are the future. If the future is good, it’s better for our country, our state. I always think if I can make them better at the grassroots level, then the next coach will get a better player. Then that coach can make the players even better. I always tell them if you want to play cricket, think about playing for the Indian team. If you don’t think about playing for the country, you won’t get near success. You need to dream big. So I try to work better, but definitely there’s a thing called luck and destiny. Though I don’t give priority to luck that much, because everyone has luck, but still we need to work hard, later definitely there is a destiny. But to create the destiny you need to work hard.

Women’s cricket in India has been on a rise in recent years. What are the areas the BCCI should focus on to keep on this momentum?  

Women’s cricket is the future. Players like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana are the icons and they are very much inspiring. The BCCI is definitely thinking about the future of women’s cricket and the IPL for women. From the time the board took over women’s cricket, there has been a drastic change. So BCCI is definitely doing good for women’s cricket and I hope the golden days of women’s cricket are coming soon. I hope the women’s IPL happens, even the Cricket Association of Bengal president, Abhishek Dalmia is extremely positive about women’s cricket and doing some remarkable job for them.

What is your reaction to MS Dhoni’s retirement?

Dhoni has retired like the way he does! Like we have seen in cricket, nobody knows what he is going to do, like doing his job silently and he is a genius player. He is a legend. What he has gifted to the cricket, honestly we will remember him forever. There are some other names in cricket that can’t be forgotten from our hearts. Like we remember the contributions of Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. I am not surprised, Dhoni retired with his style, at the very right time. A player who gave two World Cups, who made India No.1 in Tests, won the ICC Champions Trophy, we will miss him and will be in our hearts forever.

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