This Left-arm Seamer From Rajasthan Is Attracting Attention Of National Selectors. In Candid Chat He Reveals His Journey So Far
Dandy men with showstopper’s appeal usually seek career on ramps, but Aniket Choudhary is living this profession on a rugged deck of a cricket field. This striking athlete in the Team Rajasthan dugout is doing everything right with eyes on making it to the Team India. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that’s underway at the SMS Stadium, this left-arm pacer is unleashing good pace and admirable accuracy and is hopeful of making a mark at his next stop- India A warm up game against Bangladesh on February 5.
“This call for the warm-up game means a lot. Even India requires a left-arm pacer and the selectors have often said that I have potential to make it to Team India. It is something that keeps me motivated. National selector Devang Gandhi has asked me not to give upon my pace,” said the pacer. Previously he represented India A in 2013 against New Zealand A.
Earlier in September 2016, Aniket was called up to train with Team India ahead of their Test series against New Zealand. He considers that to be the biggest exposure so far, “I bowled well there and came into notice of those at the highest level. Anil Kumble praised me saying you are bowling well.”
FROM BIKANER TO JAIPUR
Coming from an affluent family of engineers, Aniket has the permission to take up the vocation of his liking. His father, in order to support his cricketing progeny, moved from Bikaner to Jaipur and got his son enrolled in Surana Academy. Negligent about his caliber, he trained little and that too for fun with no ambition to represent India or Rajasthan.
It was during the trials in 2008 that the then director of RCA, Greg Chappell, spoke of him as a good prospect, “Chappell picked me as a potential talent to hone my skills. When others cornered me saying I was unfit, he showed faith in me.” But when Chappell left the academy his interest receded, “When he left I was stranded, for nobody wanted to pick up a player who had not much cricket to boast about in his credentials. Subsequently I lost interest and left Surana Academy in 2009.”
SHIFT IN DIET
From Glen McGrath at MRF Pace foundation to Duncan Fletcher at NCA, reams of compliments from cricket’s colossuses have always followed him. Life took a decisive turn in 2011 when former Rajasthan player and selector Shamsher Singh renewed his interest in the game that he had so far played for fun. “He was like a God Father. He took me under his tutelage and made me work under former South African player Meyrick Pringle. I blindly followed him and reaped the fruits in the form of good fitness and made first-class debut in Irani Trophy.”
The same year, his family strictly vegetarian allowed him non-vegetarian food as his body couldn’t take the grind of fast bowling and often broke down.
TRAINING AT MRF PACE ACADEMY
Since his debut, he has scalped more than 100 wickets in Ranji and in these six years he hasn’t been as hungry for success as he is now. To further improve upon his Ranji performance in 2015-16, where he was the highest wicket-taker from the state with 25 scalps, he became even more rigorous with his training. “Last year I was one of the 10 bowlers BCCI had selected and luckily was able to impress McGrath with my bowling. I got a call from him and in July I joined the MRF Pace Foundation.”
There he was asked to straighten his jump in during run-up and to focus upon the non-bowling arm. Some players complain about how training there changed their action for worse, but he never felt so. He treasurers McGrath’s advice, “He appreciated my consistency of pace and asked me to try and read the game situation to ensure I take wickets.” He also undertook excursion to Brisbane to further work upon his bowling, “MRF academy sends two of its best players and I was one of them this time around.”
There again, after eight years he ran into Greg Chappell who not only recognised him but also complimented him for his transformation into a fitter and flawless trooper.
EQUATION WITH PANKAJ
For him, Team Rajasthan’s skipper Pankaj Singh is a constant source of inspiration, “I have reached this level because of him. Although he was my competitor, he never let that affect our equation and always stood by me in thick and thin.” Recalling his first major interaction with the skipper on a 6 hour-long road journey, he said, “We both were on our way to Haryana to play the Ranji 2011-12 semifinal game. He gave me a good pep talk. He said, only if you will set lofty goals you will be able to end somewhere near it.”
Things have started following in place and he hopes his commitment for the game reaps even bigger dividends.