29-year-old Sujeet Parbatani is among the most talented all-rounders to emerge from the Hyderabad domestic circuit. The skillful all-rounder bowls left-arm orthodox and bats left-handed and is equally assured in both. The southpaw is now all set to play in the Abu Dhabi T10 League after being drafted by the Northern Warriors and will rub shoulders with popular players like Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran and Wahaz Riaz.
The tournament won’t be the first time Sujeet is a part of a dressing room with icons. He was with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) franchise from 2010-2014. Sujeet is also the founder of Sujeet’s Cricket Academy (SCA), an academy ‘committed to mentoring youths and promoting lifelong wellness through excellence in sports by providing world class services and facilities.’ It is thus, evident that this is a man with focus and a deep passion for the sport.
Sujeet spoke in an exclusive interview with firstsportz.com about his early days, sharing the dressing room with legends, the T10 league and more.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview
First of all, what inspired you to become a cricketer? How did your interest in cricket begin? When did you realize that you were going to become a professional cricketer?
My passion to play and stay fit was one of the inspirations for me to play gully cricket initially. I captained my school team which also inspired me to focus on this sport and become a good player. My interest in cricket increased day by day by watching Dada’s (Sourav Ganguly) batting in early 2000 and MS Dhoni’s captaincy from 2007. In my childhood and school days I was playing well and my school coach and friends used to praise me and appreciate my contributions to the team. These stepping stones in my early years allowed me to become a professional cricketer.
You’re an all-rounder who is efficient in both batting and bowling. How did you balance the two during your early days? Was your focus fixed on both batting and bowling equally while you trained or was bowling/batting something that you didn’t focus much on but came naturally to you?
I never got training to become an all-rounder. It is my natural style since childhood. I used to bat and bowl when we had friendly matches in our society or during school tournaments, later at professional platform as well I continued the same style.
The pandemic situation has been very difficult for a lot of sportspersons. How have you been training and keeping yourself both physically and mentally fit?
Being fit is very important for any sportsperson. In the pandemic it was really difficult to train in the initial days as all the facilities were shut and the country was in an unusual situation. As days passed, I began working out at home to stay fit, both physically and mentally.
Can you talk us through your experience with the KKR franchise? How much did you learn from the various players you rubbed shoulders with?
It was a turning point in my career as I got an opportunity to get training from world class coaches. I also got a platform to observe, learn and play alongside legends of the game like Narine, Gambhir, Kallis, Shami, Russell to name a few. Being with the international players always gives you a boost to do your best and perform to your abilities. I am grateful to KKR for giving me the opportunity to be a part of various camps and grow as an individual player.
Which one of your performances in your career is your favorite?
There are many, but my favorite is my double hundred in a One-Day match. It was one of my finest knocks in batting and as a bowler I would rate my 7 wicket haul in a match as my finest.
You’ve been drafted by the Northern Warriors for the T10 League. How excited are you about taking part in the league and sharing dressing rooms with iconic players like Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran etc.?
I am thrilled and extremely excited to be a part of the Northern Warriors team and play alongside many iconic players. I am looking forward to the league and to make my mark in T10 format.
How would you evaluate the future of T10 cricket? Do you think it has a bright future and might be introduced to international cricket as well?
T-10 league is a fast growing league in the world. In such a short time it has become popular. I think this format has a very bright future and in the coming years it is going to become more big and popular.
Can you talk to us about your cricket academy, what it does, what its aim is and so on? What inspired you to start it?
I started Sujeet’s Cricket Academy with an aim to provide a platform and world class cricket coaching experience to the youth of the country. As a child, I had limited or no access to good coaching facilities in the town. The ones which were available were not affordable. I always had a dream to motivate and inspire the youth to stay fit and play for the country. This inspired me to start the academy which provides all the facilities at a nominal fees as compared to other academies in the city.
What is the most important piece of advice you’ve received in your life?
There are many advices that I received in the past 20+ years of playing cricket. But the one which stayed with me was that “People believe in you” based on your performance. This boosted my morale and encouraged me to perform even better.
Can you now give a piece of advice for young and aspiring sportspersons and cricketers?
For all the youngsters out there, I would like to say that you must never give up on your dreams. Commitment are hard-work are very important in achieving them. Remember that your efforts will never go in vain, they will be paid off in some way or another. There will be obstacles, it won’t be a cakewalk but remember that if each failure is tackled in the right way, it can become a stepping stone towards achieving your dream.