From Cricket to Cornell to World Cup: Saurabh Netravalkar in his own words | Cricket News

Left-arm seamer Saurabh Netravalkar was India’s highest wicket-taker in the U-19 World Cup in 2010. Among his scalps was Joe Root. Three years later in his debut Ranji Trophy game for Mumbai against Karnataka, he took three wickets. It turned out to be his lone first-class match before he left for the USA in 2015 to work as a software engineer. He went on to become the captain of the USA cricket team in 2018.

Now 32 and playing under skipper Monank Patel, Netravalkar’s bowling (4-0-18-2), and nerveless calm in the Super Over, were key to the USA’s improbable triumph against Pakistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup. The cricketer spoke with Avijit Ghosh about his rollercoaster career.
Edited excerpts from the 2018 interview:
Tell us about your journey from a young Mumbai cricketer to being a software engineer in San Francisco and a USA cricketer.
When I played the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, I was also an engineering student in computer science at Sardar Patel Institute of Technology in Mumbai. I was always good at academics. After I graduated in 2013, I got a full-time offer as a software engineer in Pune but I let it go because that year I was picked as a Ranji Trophy probable. I made my debut that year against Karnataka but couldn’t establish myself. I gave two years full-time to cricket but I felt I wasn’t making it to the next level. I took the GRE, TOEFL exams. I got an admission in

Cornell University for a course in masters of computer science, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was difficult for me but I took the big step.
How did you discover cricket in the USA?
When I came to the USA in 2015, I had no expectation of playing cricket. In college, I saw a few people playing the game and just joined them. I heard of an organisation called American College Cricket. I met its founder Lloyd Jodah who used to organise regional and national tournaments for universities. That’s how I started playing cricket again. After I graduated I got a job as a software engineer at Oracle in San Francisco, where I live now.

How did you get to play club cricket?
In San Francisco, I got in touch with a few good clubs. I play for Marin Cricket Club. Once I met Timil Patel, a former Gujarat all-rounder, who was the USA vice-captain then. He introduced me to his club in Los Angeles, Vijeta CC. LA has proper pitches. On weekends, there are prize money tournaments where big players come and I get good exposure.
What was your daytime work schedule?
I have a nine-to-five job. There is an indoor facility (nets), about one hour drive from the office. On weekdays, I go there twice or thrice. I practice 7-9 at night. The remaining two days, I hit the gym. We have a fitness app for the 30 probables of the national team. The fitness trainer puts the programme on the app. We are supposed to follow it wherever we are. On the weekend, I play club matches. Last year, I used to take a six-hour drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. On Friday, I used to leave a little early from the office with a fellow player and drive to LA. We would play a 50-over game in LA on Saturday. Then we would drive back in the night and play a 50-over game in San Francisco on Sunday. It was back to work on Monday. I put in a lot of effort which was noticed by selectors and I was brought into the national team. If Friday or Monday was a holiday, they would host tournaments in different parts of the USA. These are invitational tournaments with competitive cricket. I made sure to play in those tournaments to get good exposure. Oracle has been kind enough to support me, helping me manage both my work and my game.


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