“I’ve sent an email to the BCCI informing them that I’ve retired from cricket in India,” Patel told TOI on Monday. The move makes him eligible for franchise cricket. His first stop is in the West Indies, where he will play in the forthcoming edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) for the Barbados Tridents.
Patel’s motivation to quit cricket in India and move to the US is simple. “I want to taste international cricket by playing for the US cricket team. I also wanted to stay with my family, which has been based here for the last 11 years,” he said. Being a green card holder, he can live and work there permanently. Years ago, his family had migrated from Gujarat to Pennsylvania and currently lives in Easton. “My sisters are dentists, and we have a family business too,” he revealed.
It should help Patel that there is a strong presence of Indians in the US cricket team- the new head coach is former Karnataka captain and coach J Arun Kumar, and the skipper is Saurabh Netravalkar, a Mumbaikar who played for India in the under-19 World Cup in 2010.
However, Patel needs to spend three years in the US – including at least nine months in a year – to be eligible for the national team. “I will qualify to play for the US team by August 2022. I’m looking forward to performing at all stages to enable my selection in the US national team. As I said, I really do want to play international cricket,” he stressed.
Patel also has a two-year contract with the Major League Cricket (MLC) – an ambitious T20 league planned to promote cricket in the US. The league’s launch has been delayed due to covid. “It’s scheduled to kick off next year, and I’m looking forward to playing in it” he informed.
Soon after the high of being part of that under-19 World Cup triumph, Patel, like many from that batch, experienced frustration when he moved to senior cricket, as he struggled to find a place in the Gujarat senior team, with skipper Parthiv Patel being the established wicketkeeper in the side.
He then played three seasons for Tripura, before moving to Goa and then Baroda. Playing for four teams in domestic cricket, he scored 3278 first-class runs in 55 games at 39.49, including 11 centuries and 14 fifties. He also played 43 List A matches and 28 T20s, scoring 1234 and 708 runs, respectively.
Is he disappointed with the way his career shaped up? “No. I am very happy with what I have achieved, and I still am searching for greater success in life,” he replied. He would rather choose to cherish the memory of that winning shot in that under-19 World Cup final against Australia nine years ago. “That slog sweep is still fresh in my mind. The joy of hitting the winning runs in a World Cup final representing India will always be in my heart,” he said.