Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Minor League Cricket Player Spotlight: Harmeet Singh and Rishi Bhardwaj. Harmeet Singh was an unfortunate collateral in the sordid IPL fixing saga.
Harmeet Singh was an unfortunate collateral in the sordid IPL fixing saga.
Touted as the next Bishan Bedi by none other than Ian Chappel, Harmeet first burst onto the Mumbai scene by guiding his school to a Giles Shield championship along with Shardul Thakur. He also got the taste of the big league at the age of 15 when he was named in the Mumbai side for the annual Buchi Babu tournament. Not long after that Sachin Tendulkar would call him up to bowl at him during his private net sessions. He shot to instant fame during India's successful U19 World Cup campaign in 2012. Shortly thereafter he got his IPL contract as his inbox started to flood with a variety of offers from well-known sports agents. He even attended over 30 functions in 30 days after winning the U19 World Cup down under. Life was now in the fast lane for young Harmeet.
In the aftermath of the 2013 IPL fixing saga, the 20-year-old Harmeet quickly discovered how lonely Indian cricket can be. Due to the negative speculations, Vidarbha relieved him off his contract. The BCCI did clear him after an inquiry but not before the damage had been done. From being the cynosure of all eyes, he was relegated to almost being an untouchable due to a constant media trial. In a first-class career that spanned over a decade Harmeet only has 31 first class games under his belt, with 17 of them coming for a non-descript side such as Tripura.
Living in Seattle with his young family now, Harmeet Singh has made peace with how things stand. Away from the grind of Mumbai and even further from the mental torment he braved almost every day for a decade to establish himself in the Mumbai dressing room. The one-time U19 world cup winner, who now captains the Seattle Thunderbolts in Minor League Cricket, is ready to reboot his cricketing journey, a journey that started with a lot of promise and euphoria. A journey of a well-documented newsroom trial he didn't deserve and now one that of self-discovery and contentment.
“There is nothing I want to prove to anyone. I want to prove it to myself that I belong to a world stage that hopefully Major League Cricket will provide. I'm still 28. I'll be 30 by the time I qualify to play for the US and test myself out worldwide playing in some of the best leagues. The opportunity I was looking for is here” said Harmeet.
Pravin Amre always used to tell Rishi Bhardwaj “Tu kahi bhi khel lega. Tu bada shaana hain” (You'll do good anywhere. You're very street smart). And the fact that Bhardwaj has been the ultimate amateur journeyman cricketer amplifies Amre's point. He has had professional stints in four different continents. Apart from playing for Air India in Mumbai, he has played professionally in the Sussex premier division, Durban and the US.
Originally from Delhi, as a 16-year-old he once famously played a dazzling innings of 153 in a 45 over game against the likes of Ashish Nehra and former Mumbai Indians leg spinner Chetanya Nanda. Couple of years later Bhardwaj would go onto club 10 sixes in 10 balls against a Railways U19 side in a warm up game.
Bhardwaj was a sensation with the bat in the inaugural season of minor league cricket last year, finishing with an astonishing 287 runs in 5 innings at a strike rate of 156. That put him into the national spotlight and he duly gained a call up to USA's 26-man training camp. He has had average returns this year and had to miss almost a third of the tournament owing to a finger injury. But with his team Atlanta Fire in the playoff race, Bhardwaj has his eyes set firmly on target.
“I know I haven't had a great tournament up until now. But come the playoffs I think it will be a different ball game. I have supreme confidence in my ability to turn the tide around. The fire has been an excellent franchise to work with. Ricardo Powell is someone who I look upto. He has been a great support system in the dressing room” said Bhardwaj on the eve of the Atlantic Conference semifinals.
Bhardwaj is one of the hottest T20 batting commodities in the country currently. With the Americas T20 WC qualifiers around the corner and an unsettled USA top order, Bhardwaj may well book his ticket to the World Cup qualifiers if he sets the stage alight with his enterprising stroke play with all eyes of the US cricketing fraternity on the marquee event.