Special Son-day? Groundsman's son picked in Mumbai Ranji squad
History will repeat itself tomorrow if Ankush Jaiswal is named in Mumbai's playing XI in their Ranji Trophy fixture against Railways at Wankhede Stadium — a groundsman's son will be seen in Mumbai Ranji colours just like Eknath Solkar did when he made his debut against Saurashtra at Jamnagar in 1967.
Spinner Ankush Jaiswal with his father Ramkishan at the MIG Cricket Club in Bandra yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
On Friday, the Milind Rege-led selection committee picked 23-year-old off-spinner Ankush in Mumbai's squad to take on the Railwaymen. Ankush's father Ramkishan is a groundsman at the MIG Cricket Club in Bandra (East) since 1976, long before it became an important venue on the city's cricketing landscape.
Ankush claimed 26 wickets for MIG CC in the just concluded Kanga League 'A' division which included a couple of fifers. Ankush received the news of his Ranji selection through a phone call from an official after the Mumbai team ended their net session at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground where Mumbai captain Aditya Tare and other teammates congratulated him.
"I was very happy. I immediately thought about my father whose labour I witnessed ever since I was a child. I always wanted to play for his sake," Ankush told mid-day at MIG CC yesterday.
Recalling his tough past, Ankush said: "We used to stay at the MIG premises due to our poor financial condition. After the club's renovation, we shifted from one place to another for a few years before we could purchase a hut. We now live in a small room, which we managed to get through the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. I feel proud that I am set to fulfill my father's dream of playing for the Mumbai Ranji team."
Several cricketers, including the Mumbai team's coach Chandrakant Pandit had told Ramkishan that Ankush will play for Mumbai sooner or later. "Two years ago, Pandit told me that Ankush is a very good bowler and has a bright future. I used to get frustrated when he couldn't make the team, but Ankush was always calm and patient," said Ramkishan, who earns Rs 15,000 a month for his work at MIG CC.
The groundsman was grateful to coaches Satish Samant and Kiran Mokashi, a former Mumbai Ranji offie himself. "We were waiting for Ankush to make the Mumbai team for the last three years. At times, I had resigned to the fact that he was not destined to play for Mumbai, but I am happy now. I am confident that he will be successful at the Ranji Trophy level."
Bowled to Sachin
Ankush has also bowled to batting legend Sachin Tendulkar. "I used to bowl to Sachin sir when I was 15. He stressed to me that every batsman plays in a different style, so bowl accordingly and try to spin the ball more and beat the batsman. I even bowled to him a few weeks ago when he was preparing for the All Stars series. 'Well bowled, keep it up,' he said to me," revealed Ankush. Has Ankush heard of Solkar and his father Dhondu?
"Yes, several people gave me the example of the late Eknath Solkar, a son of a groundsman, who developed into a world-class cricketer. I am motivated by his achievements. I believe, I too will play for India someday," said Ankush.
Incidentally, Ankush took six wickets against his tomorrow's opponents Railways in an under-25 game at Varanasi last season. "If I get an opportunity I will play with a positive mindset. I don't get too perturbed if the pitch does not assist spin. I then just stick to my line and length," he said.
His coach Mokashi felt the same: "Every spinner is dangerous on a turning track, but Ankush will be successful on flat wickets too. He claimed six wickets against National CC on a flat MIG CC track recently so I am confident he will perform at this level," said Mokashi, who claimed 146 wickets in 47 first-class games.