KOCHI: It was 17 years ago when Mithun Manhas bade farewell to his home state Jammu and Kashmir and relocated to Delhi with an eye of making a career in cricket. Though he had played for J&K U-19 side, the lack of infrastructure back home forced him to make a big shift.
The long stint in his new home gave Mithun a cricketing address, where he earned a nickname ‘Mr Dependent’, after delivering on a regular basis. From Ranji Trophy to Deodhar, he impressed with numbers. A call-up to the national side could have been an ideal recognition for his efforts. But that never materialised.
Prior to the 2014-15 Ranji season, Manhas decided to return to J&K. His unselfish act to give Delhi youngsters a chance to bloom made him take the call this time.
“The decision to move was taken after much thought. I couldn’t play for India and I don’t want that to happen to others. There were several youngsters in Delhi line-up and I don’t want to block their growth by overstaying,” he told Express.
With Delhi team safe in the hands of Gautam Gambhir & co, he made the move. “I wanted to move to J&K so that I can help the guys over there. There are lot of talents in J&K, but the infrastructure is poor. If I could help couple of guys to come up the ladder and get national reckoning, I would be more than happy,” he explained.
Having signed a three-year contract with Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, the gritty middle-order batsman feels that there is still lot of cricket left in him. “My fitness is good for a 37-year-old. My mind is much younger, and till it stays younger I will play,” he said.
When asked whether he should have got at least a chance to play for India, a sense of loss pervaded through his face. “Amol Muzumdar and me played at a time when Indian middle-order was occupied by Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. They played for 17 years and naturally we didn’t get a chance. Missing out on India cap, the disappointment is there. But I’m content that I did well in whatever formats I played.”
With 9640 runs, Manhas is the second-highest run-getter in first-class format. He is closing in on 10,000-run milestone. But the 36-year-old is least amused by numbers for now. “Playing cricket I reached here. Numbers don’t amuse me any more. I will play as long as I feel like playing. All my thoughts are now about J&K cricket,” he headed to the team bus.