Game On! - Parth Satwalekar

Parth Satwalekar may be into another profession today but he is a cricketer at heart. He rose to prominence at a young age, representing Hyderabad at all junior state levels, and then playing the Ranji Trophy, too. During his stint as a cricketer, he has also captained the Karnataka University and the south zone teams for four consecutive years. He opens up with You & I about his cricketing journey, playing the leagues, and the significant U-turn that completely changed his career game.

How did your passion for cricket grow? When did you start playing the game?
I was inspired to play cricket when I saw India winning the Benson & Hedges world championship in Australia in 1985. It motivated me to start playing the sport at a more serious level. When I was all of 11, I picked up the bat and dedicated my time to it. I’m still committed to cricket.

Who were your role models when you first began playing?
My role models, back in the day, were Viv Richards, Ian Botham, and Imran Khan.

What are the most important things the sport has taught you?
Of the many things I’ve learnt from cricket, being humble and always trying to learn are the two most important lessons that remained with me even after I stopped playing the sport.

What stopped you from taking up cricket as a full-time career?
Being born into a doctor’s family, taking up cricket as a full-time career – especially back in the early 90’s – was not an option for me! Since I also wanted to complete dentistry, I enrolled myself for the postgraduate dental course while still playing for the Ranji Trophy. Having chosen an alternate profession, I never really missed playing the sport, as I played several leagues after that, and continue to play cricket even today.

What are some of the challenges you face while playing in the leagues?
I can’t really say there are challenges in the leagues I play today. Presently, I am 45, and I play a bit of corporate cricket these days. I have to say, it’s all fun and games!

Who’s been your toughest opponent so far?
The toughest bowler I’ve faced has to be Zaheer Khan, by a mile. And the toughest opponent is Mumbai, who steam-rolled us in the 1999-2000 Ranji finals, when both Sachin and Kambli got hundreds.

How have things changed in the cricket scene in Hyderabad since you first started?
Well, cricket at large has changed quite a bit since I first started. The facilities these days are phenomenal compared to earlier! Given this, I feel that the players today have no excuse not to perform!

What would you like to change about the sport now?
I would change the parents’ mindsets for sure. Everyone wants their kid to play in the IPL these days, as soon as they make the grade. I feel that parents should relax a bit and let their kids just enjoy the game before setting such expectations for them.

Who’s your favourite cricketer and why?
My favourite cricketers are Sachin, Rahul, and V.V.S.Laxman! V.V.S. is one of my closest friends and a schoolmate, too.         – as told to Sumana