Blind cricketer, who won man of the series in England has no job at home

Ketan Patel, a visually challenged all-rounder, won the man-of-the-series award in the recent ODI and T20 series in England; after returning to Mumbai with the triumphant team yesterday, the 29-year-old rued the fact that all his success on the field has not helped him bag a job

Ketan Patel felt a great sense of pride to return home from a victorious cricket tour of England last morning. The visually challenged 29-year-old all-rounder played a key role in India’s grand success in the One-day International and Twenty20 series in England, after which he and his India teammates visited Bahrain for a friendly cricket series.

Ketan Patel
Ketan Patel

Amidst the joy of a memorable homecoming, the Valsad resident was also visibly tired at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after the Bahrain-Mumbai flight. Worried too. “Success comes after sincere effort and hard work. Yes, I celebrate our success, but I have to worry about some other aspects,” Patel, who also starred in India’s World Cup triumph last year, told mid-day at the airport.

Ketan Patel (second from left) with his triumphant team mates at the Mumbai international airport. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Ketan Patel (second from left) with his triumphant team mates at the Mumbai international airport. Pics/Nimesh Dave

When asked what he was worried about, Patel opened up: “I was part of the World Cup team and now these two memorable series, but will these performances count for something? Despite several pleas to the Gujarat government, I have not been able to get a much-needed job.”

Patel, who falls in the fully blind, B-1 category, scored a match-winning 64 runs in the first ODI against England on May 24 at Warwickshire. In the next fixture at the same venue, he scored 42 off 32 balls for India to clinch the three-match series.

His unbeaten knock of 102 off 46 balls in a Twenty-20 clash at the Oval in London on May 31 was his best performance on tour. Deservedly, he won the man of the series award in the ODI and T20 series. On December 7 last year, Patel scored 76 and claimed two wickets in the India vs Pakistan World Cup final at Cape Town, South Africa.

Reality check
With no job in sight, Patel, who has studied up to Std XII, turns to farming on his family’s rice field, which fetches them Rs 25,000 for four months’ work (June to September). This, after an investment of Rs 12,000. In addition to this, the family earns Rs 6,000 approximately per month by selling milk given by their three cows.

His 60-year-old father Babubhai is blind as well, and Patel has to feed his wife and two daughters (aged 11 and 4). “We have three acres of land in Phaladra village — 25 km away from Valsad — on Dharampur Road. We do rice farming only during the monsoons,” he said.

Patel first represented Gujarat in the National Blind Championship at Chennai in 2004. Through his consistent, all-round performances he was selected to represent India in the 2006 World Cup in Pakistan, where he earned his first international man-of-the match award.

Patel travels twice a week to Valsad to train with his fellow Gujarat blind cricketers. On other days, he practises alone in Phaladra village. “I don’t have any hopes for a job now, simply because I have been trying for so many years. I was hopeful of one after our World Cup triumph five months ago, but no one helped me,” he rued.

This blind Indian team overcame the challenge from the Englishmen and the cool weather to win both series convincingly. Shekar Nayak led the ODI team for a 2-0 win while Ajay Reddy was captain in the shortest format in which India won 3-0. Reddy was a star performer too, scoring an unbeaten 121 and 58 in ODIs in which he earned the man of the series award in B-2 (partially blind) category.

Flash back
Last month, mid-day had reported how medium-pacer Amol Karche, who helped India lift the T20 World Cup for the Blind in December 2014, did not get any financial support to put together the Rs 63,000 he needed to be part of the team that toured England. In seven World Cup games, medium pacer Karche had claimed seven wickets including two in the final against Pakistan on December 7, 2014. (Click here to read the full story)

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