Cricket in 2014 played a big part in the life of Vishal Khatri, the American Cricket Federation’s (ACF) MVP and leading scorer. Also the Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board’s (WMCB) leading 40-Overs and T20 run scorer, Khatri also earned the 2014 MVP title at the inaugural ACF American Cricket Champions League Championship in Orlando, FL. Newyorkcricket.com caught up with the stylish batsman for a one-on-one chat, about himself and cricket in the USA.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Vishal Khatri. I was born in Kurukshetra, Haryana, India, and moved to Washington, DC in 2005 to pursue a higher education degree. I am currently working as a senior software engineer in Hughes, MD. I represented Haryana at the Under-16 level in the Vinu Mankand Trophy (a national tournament). Before that I played several State level tournaments at Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 levels while representing Kurukshetra. Currently I play for Columbia CC in the WMCB league and for Nitro, in the Washington Cricket league. I am also a member of the WMCB Eagles team which represented the Mid-Atlantic Division in the National tournament, last October. I earned a sponsorship from ‘Hammer Cricket’ one of the best cricket brands in the USA, for being the highest run scorer in the inaugural ACF American Cricket Champions League, last year.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done while playing cricket?
In 2013, my ankle got twisted during a weekday and was swollen like a small soccer ball. My team had a very important game that coming weekend, and I went and played the whole 40-overs game while limping all the time. I was off my feet and in bed for a good 10 days after that game.
Tell us about your training routines
During the cricket season, I do upper body on Mondays, running (4-6 miles) on Tuesdays, practice sessions on Wednesdays, and legs with some cardio on Thursdays, Friday is a rest day to recover for the weekend games.
During the off-season/winters, it’s almost the same routine, except I add upper body exercises on Wednesdays and practice indoors either on Saturday or Sunday.
Who is the toughest player you know?
There are lots of excellent players whom I played with, but it’s hard to name one!
What’s your favorite wicket celebrating routine?
Standing with both hands in the air.
Give us your view on the state of USA Cricket, and how the game may be improved
When I moved to the US I thought there won’t be any cricket here. As time progressed and I started playing more and more games (starting 2008), I was shocked at how much talent we have here. There’s got to be some serious issue for sure, that we have been relegated to WCL Division 4 after so many years of work. If I have to sum it up in a few words, or list the major ones, I would definitely blame –
1. Lack of transparency in selection process
2. No domestic tournaments
3. No financial funding for players
4. No training camps for players
Here are my two cents to improve the game; we definitely need to have Domestic Tournaments. Having said that, you have to appreciate the hard work done by the ACF, in organizing a successful (ACCL) tournament, which went all year long in 2014. I am not saying this because I was the tournament’s highest run scorer, but the point here is, “Domestic Tournament.” Without such a format how would you get to know the skill sets of the other cricketers in your region, or other parts of country? You cannot select a player based on his league performances or because of his experience only. This format is absolutely required! Another thing is sponsorships. The majority of cricketers in the US have full time jobs, and it’s really hard for them to buy tickets out of their own pockets every time, to travel or take time off from work knowing there won’t be any compensation or reimbursement. If we can assign some part of funding as compensation for players, like sponsoring travel expenses for every tournament they play, or training camps before any major ICC event, it will definitely attract more and more individuals to game.
Tell us something we don’t know about you
I pretend to be a very quiet/calm guy on the field, but actually, I am very impatient.
If cricket has taught you one thing, what is it?
Can you cook?
Yes, I can cook. Being a single guy, I was left with no option, so I had to learn.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I always have a hard time remembering people’s names.
Who are your favorite cricket commentators?
Geoffrey Boycott and Harsha Bhogle
Do you collect anything?
Yes, I do not throw away my old bats. I keep my five-wicket haul balls too.
What’s the best compliment you have ever received from a fellow cricketer?
Run machine, Mr. Consistent.
What is the best cricket souvenir you have?
My small size pads from my Under-14 cricketing days
Where is the best place in USA to play cricket?
Woodley Park, Los Angeles, and all of the Washington, DC area.
Who’s your all-time hero outside of cricket?
My Family. They have always supported me. If you talk about sports, my father represented our home State (Haryana) in wrestling. My elder brother represented Haryana too, in soccer.
What’s your favorite shot?
The straight drive.
Would you rather take a five-wicket haul or score a fifty?
Primarily, I am batsman so without any doubt, I will go for the five-wicket haul. Just for the record, in 2014 I scored approximately 13-14 fifties in different tournaments, but had just one five-wicket haul, so definitely it would be precious to me.
Which cricketer in the world would you pay to watch?
Sachin Tendulkar without any doubt.
Describe you in three words?
Determined, Hardworking, Positive.
Have you got any superstitions?
Yes. On game days I prefer to eat breakfast from Dunkin Donuts only. I never borrow a cap from anyone else. Another one, while going onto the field to bat or bowl, I touch the ground first (not sure if I would call it a superstition or simply respect). I have been doing the latter one since childhood.
Are you handy at any other sports?
Swimming and tennis. In fact, I was a State level swimmer during my secondary education years. I play tennis whenever time allows.