Keeping the state’s flag flying high by making a mark in leg cricket, Chandan Ray is determined to promote the sport. Captain of the national U-19 team, Ray is a top order legs man and part time bowler. He also plays for Odisha leg cricket team in domestic leg cricket. This year, the young player will be felicitated with the Khel Gaurav Award by Leg Cricket Federation of India. MCL interacted with the young lad who is determined, focused and knows his game pretty well.
How did your interest for leg cricket develop?
It was in the year 2013, when I had just appeared for my 10th class examinations and was waiting for the results when few of my friends as well as the PE teacher in my school told me to try this game. So, I started playing it and gradually started getting better at it. I developed a passion for the game and became a more confident player with every passing day. I also started getting compliments for my performances and that further fuelled my interest in the game.
Tell us about your first match.
I played my first class match at Ambala, Haryana on May 12, 2013. After that I made my international debut at Kathmandu, Nepal on July 7, 2013. As I gave a good performance on the field, I was named the captain for the first Indo-Nepal series at Kathmandu in 2013 which we won subsequently. For me, the captaincy was a surprise but I was confident about giving my best.
What is your daily routine like?
My day starts at early morning 5 am. Every morning I run; do some stretching exercises and after that I practice a few kicking shots and also work on my fielding and catching skills. I finish my practice session within 8.30 am and return home. Again, in the evening, I repeat the same routine from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
Is there any weak area you have to work on?
Yes, I have one weak area and that is kicking the ball to a long distance. Previously, I was good at hitting the ball outside the boundary but during the match against Nepal, my ankle was injured and since then I am having a problem kicking the ball. The doctor has advised me not to put pressure on my ankle and not to kick the ball with a lot of force. I hope I get better and back in form soon.
How do you balance studies and sports?
I completed my 12th in 2015 and since then haven’t been able to continue my education due to financial crisis. I am still facing a monetary problem. Before 2013, I did not face much difficulty in balancing my time because I used to get up early in the morning and practice my game and get ready for school. But after 10th, I went to a new school, Vikash Residential School, and my parents got me admitted in the hostel. So, there was not too much scope to practice.
Have you received any kind of help from the State Government?
I haven’t got any help from the State Government. I met the State Sports Minister Sudam Marndi and discussed the matter with him. He said that this game is not in their discipline so they can’t help me. He said the day leg cricket gets added into their discipline, he can provide me with some help. And also, I would like to add here that leg cricket is not yet affiliated to the Ministry of Sports, Sports Authority of India or Olympic Association. If that happens, it will be great news for players like us.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you want to overcome it?
My biggest challenge is how to popularise leg cricket and get it affiliated through government and sports bodies. When people ask me what sport I play and I answer leg cricket, they stare at my face. I want to remove those questions from their mind. As they know about cricket, badminton and many other sports, likewise I want them to understand leg cricket.
What inspires you to go on in life?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is my biggest inspiration. I follow him very closely. Although the format of leg cricket is different from that of cricket, I love the way he handles everything calmly. I admire how he handles pressure. Another person who is my inspiration is Biplab Samantray. He is the captain of Odisha Ranji team. He always gives me good advice and tells me to keep working hard. However, if it wasn’t for the support of Jogendra Prasad Verma, founder general secretary of Indian Leg Cricket Association and Dulal Chandra Pradhan, Odisha State Association General Secretary, I wouldn’t be standing where I am today. They have also come forward to form a state association in Odisha for leg cricket.
So, what are your future plans?
Well I do not believe in thinking about the future much; I believe in acting in the present. But I really want leg cricket to become a widely known sport in the world. Besides, I want to continue serving my nation as the captain of the Indian team. I want to popularise the game through my determination and desire for the game and wish to make more and more people aware about it.