Retired TN player makes a comeback in league match
After playing several years for Tamil Nadu, Shah represented Uttarakhand in 2020 as a professional.
The joy of picking up a willow never diminishes with age. Several cricketers, be it former India captain S Venkataraghavan or the current junior national chief selector S Sharath, played league cricket after retiring from first-class cricket.
Even the current head coach of the Indian men’s team Rahul Dravid came out of retirement and played a league match for Vijay CC in the TNCA league in Chennai. But, to come out of retirement and play first-class and white-ball cricket once again at the national level is unique, and this is where Rahil Shah stands out.
After playing several years for Tamil Nadu, Shah represented Uttarakhand in 2020 as a professional. But, last year he quit first-class cricket to take care of his business, after his father’s demise. Added to this responsibility, Shah wasn’t keen on staying away from his family for over six months in a year.
However, when he was invited by Tripura to play for them ahead of this season, he instantly agreed. “I was still in touch with the game as I was playing for Vijay CC in the TNCA First Division league, and was also playing in the TNPL. So, when the Tripura call came this year, I thought about it and with the support of my family, I said yes to them,” the 36-year-old told CE, after the Ranji Trophy game against Haryana which ended in a draw.
With the matches happening in a bio-secure environment, Shah’s experience of playing in the TNPL under similar rules came in handy. “I also played quite a few matches before turning out for Tripura. I played the TNPL, the TNCA 1st division, and the TNCA one-day tournament. The first division matches are of two-day duration. So, this came in handy while playing for Tripura,’’ revealed the lead spinner of Tripura.
“I was never completely out of touch from the game. Yes, Ranji quality is at a different level, and here my experience was useful. Plus, our Tripura coach Sameer Dighe is a tough task master. So we had hard practice sessions. With some good stretching exercises and ice baths I was fine,” he said.
Being the experienced spinner in the Tripura side, Shah had to put in a lot of overs; against Haryana, he had to bowl 42. “For my kind of bowling, I usually prefer long spells. So, bowling 42 overs was good. But the wicket was too patta and also slow. My love and passion for the game keeps me going,’’ he said.
With the number of teams in the Ranji having expanded, teams from the North-East, in particular, and the ones like Goa, Vidarbha understand that quality players cannot be groomed overnight, and therefore, they approach retiring cricketers or those who have just retired to guide the youngsters in their side.
“To come out of retirement and play as a professional for another state requires a high level of self-motivation. Also, there is added pressure when you play as a professional. So, if a person can handle that, then he can think about coming back and playing for another year or two,’’ Rahil signed off.