Smit Patel, an Under-19 World Cup winner with India in 2012, has officially retired from all forms of cricket under the BCCI’s ambit to pursue his American dream. This also makes him eligible to play in franchise tournaments outside India, and his first stop will be the Caribbean, where he will represent the Barbados Tridents in the CPL this August.”It’s a new innings for me,” Patel told ESPNcricinfo from Arizona, where he is representing the New Jersey Blackcaps, a club side, at a weekend tournament. “It’s been a different sort of a journey. Starting with the highs of the Under-19 World Cup, then the frustration of not finding a place as a wicketkeeper and then moving four teams [Gujarat, Tripura, Goa and Baroda] within India for opportunities.”All this is bound to happen when there’s stifling competition, so I’ve got no complaints. I’m blessed to have played for India at a world event – few get that chance. So I’m moving on with happy memories. All my paperwork with the BCCI is complete. I’ve sent in my retirement letter. So the India chapter of my cricket career is over. If I return, it’ll only be to train here for a month or so every year when it’s snowing back in the US.”
Patel isn’t a stranger to America though. He is a green-card holder – meaning he can live and work there permanently – having spent considerable time in the country since 2010. His family had migrated from Gujarat to Pennsylvania and currently lives in Easton, where his father runs a gas station, and the plan of having a better life has worked out well.It is this security, along with a two-year Major League Cricket (MLC) contract, Patel said, that gave him the confidence to try and forge a playing career in the USA. As things stand, the league has been pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic and is now set to kick-off in 2023.”Yes, having played for 12 years in India, to suddenly pack up and leave can be intimidating,” he said. “But since my family was already here and they have set themselves up here, the decision was somewhat easier than just having to turn up here and look out for yourself. I’d been doing that in India for a decade now – living there to just play cricket and come back here during the off-season. I’d spent nine months of lockdown last year here, and I’ve been back here since April. Also signing up with MLC was a surety that I’m part of a system here.”Patel’s cricket career in India was at best a stop-start affair. After becoming a breakout star at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup along with Unmukt Chand, B Aparajith and Sandeep Sharma, to name a few, Patel had to contend with the frustration of being in the reserves for a better part of a few years at Gujarat, where their captain Parthiv Patel was the first-choice wicketkeeper.
News Source: espncricinfo