Player Likens Cricket To Life
Newyorkcricket.com recently asked USA right-arm off-spinner Abhimanyu Rajp to reflect on his cricketing career to-date, and what can be done to improve the sport of cricket in America. The 28 year old Indian-born player was very gracious in his answers and views, citing the similarities of life and cricket.

Abhimanyu Rajp bowls against Scotland during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE in 2012. Photo: ICC

Tell us about yourself
My name is Abhimanyu Rajp and I was born in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 14. I have been residing in LA since then. I work for a bioPharma company called Amgen, as a Financial Operations Analyst.

I have had the honor to play for some great teams so far in my career. I started my professional cricket career playing for Ludhiana junior teams (U-12, U-14 and U-16) and moved on to Punjab U-16 before moving to the US. Since then I have had the honor of representing some great clubs locally such as Ventura Cricket Club and I am currently playing for Cosmos Cricket Club in the Southern California Cricket Association league. I also play for the Washington Tigers and Fooglies in private T20 Tournaments around the US.

What is your biggest cricket accomplishment, so far?
My biggest accomplishment is playing for my county – the United States of America, from the U-19 level to the Senior Team.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done while playing cricket?
I was leading a SWR U-19 team vs. the Atlantic Region in the 2005 U-19 Nationals at Leo Magnus Cricket Complex, when we took to the field and ran through the Atlantic line up with one Gully, three Slips, two Silly Points, a Point, a Fine-leg and a Mid-off, for almost the whole innings of Atlantic. Everything worked, it was a crazy set up. I think a lot of players will remember that game.

Tell us about your training routines.
I am a regular on the cricket field doing my drills and routines whether there is a game or not. I practice during the week as well. I am not a fan of the gym. I believe that cricketers need a real turf wicket and a ground to workout, not weights, assuming the weather permits. I doubt that there has ever been a weekend when I haven’t been to a cricket field.

Who is the toughest player you know?
There are a few that come to mind but off the top of my head I would have to say Abhishek Pawar, my Cosmos team mate and former US National, he has to be one of the toughest cookies around.

What’s your favorite wicket celebrating routine?
I enjoy guiding the batsmen towards the dressing room, although it is not often taken very well. I have run into trouble with Match Referees, while trying to be the GPS.  But other than that I don’t like to go overboard with my celebrations; I like to win the war, battles don’t interest me much.

Give us your view on the state of USA Cricket, and how to improve the game.
Well this is a topic you and I can go on about, forever. I think organizing, administering and expanding cricket in the United States has to be one of the toughest jobs in the cricketing world, just because of the sheer size of our country. I think that is why, as a country, we have more of a franchise structure in pro sports rather than a national one.

Abhimanyu Rajp (left) was the vice captain of USA team that participated in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2006.

US cricket is in a tough place right now and for us to take the game ahead we have to go back to basics. Players, juniors and seniors, need to be the top priority of the game and how well taken care of they are, before, during and after a tour. We tend to forget that we are here together for a cause; and more often than not the players are forgotten about.

I don’t like to be involved in much of the politics that goes on, but from a player’s standpoint, I would like to see us communicate and prepare well. National regional coaches, performance evaluations, set National/Regional Tournament structures for youth and senior players, alike.

Just from a private T20 Tournament standpoint, I would like to see the US National Men’s team participating in every tournament that has a substantial winning amount; In doing that, not only will the team play more together, practice more, learn more about each other, but also financially I think, given the right revenue allocation, the players and the association can make some serious financial gains.  And just think about how much easier of a job it will become for the selectors to get a team together, at least for a T20 set up. Not many can argue with stats.

Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I am a bit of a bathroom singer and have a few records out there for the general masses to enjoy (or not). You can check out my artistic creativity on www.MusafirLudhianvi.com; although I have taken a back seat on singing in the past few years to concentrate more on life and cricket.

If cricket has taught you one thing, what is it?
Life = Cricket; the similarities are uncanny. Just like cricket, in life sometimes you have to be aggressive, sometimes patient. It becomes hard at times, and feels like a breeze to get through at other times. Sometimes we all have to dig ourselves out of a hole, persistence and hard work pays off. Just like cricket; everyone is fighting a different battle with different skill sets. Some are spinners, batsmen, all-rounders while in some ways, some are PhDs, developers, engineers, construction workers, etc… Everyone has a role to play for their life or their cricket to be successful.

Can you cook?
I can eat.

What’s your biggest weakness?
Patience or lack thereof.

Abhimanyu Rajp during USACA National T20 touarnment in August. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Who is your favorite cricket commentator?
Mr. David “Bumble” Lloyd.

Do you collect anything?
I collect memories; of all kinds.

What’s the best compliment you have ever received from a fellow cricketer?
“Big Game Player” or “Big Spinna,” I have a knack of relishing a pressure situation more often than not.

What is the best cricket souvenir you have?
I came back with a bag full of ICC Memorabilia from the 2005 U-19 Americas Cup; MVP, Best Bowler, and two MOMs. Those shall remain the best until I get the rest, since that was a defining moment in US U-19 cricket history.

Where is the best place in USA to play cricket?
Leo Magus Cricket Complex, also known as Woodley Cricket Fields, Van Nuys, LA County, California. This is what a Woodley pitch looks like for those who haven’t had the privilege of playing on one yet:

Who’s your all-time hero outside of cricket?
My family

What’s your favorite shot?
The one that comes off from the middle of the bat.

Would you rather take a five-wicket haul or score a fifty?
I would rather win the match.

Which cricketer in the world would you pay to watch?
None in the current era. The real cricketers belong to the yesteryears.

Describe you in three words?
Confident, humble, and competitive.

Have you got any superstitions?
I don’t have superstitions; I have rituals, but far too many to list here.

Are you handy at any other sports?
At every sport.

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