Smit Patel, who last week got picked in the CPL draft, confirmed that he has already sent retirement papers to the BCCI and asserted that he has no regrets in restarting his cricketing career in the United States. Patel, a US green card holder, will feature in the Major League Cricket competition.
Nine years ago Smit Patel was the second-highest run-getter for India in the 2012 U19 World Cup, hit the winning runs in the competition and was destined for great things, but, rather unfortunately, the wicket-keeper batsman’s career never took off. Patel spent the 2010s switching states in the hope of getting a breakthrough, but the wicket-keeper’s moment never came and he eventually became ‘just another journeyman’ who got lost in the system.
It was then, very recently, that the 28-year-old took arguably the biggest decision of his life - to say goodbye to his Indian aspirations and switch permanently to the United States. A green card holder in the US, Patel, post the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, took the decision to permanently leave India, and last week got picked in the Caribbean Premier League draft by Barbados Trident.
In the long run, Patel will be featuring in the Major League Cricket competition, that will be inaugurated next year, and speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, the 28-year-old asserted that his Indian career is over and insisted that he has no regrets about switching countries to start a new chapter.
"It's a new innings for me. 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,” Patel told ESPN Cricinfo.
"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."
Born in Gujarat, Patel, in his 9-year-long domestic career, remarkably switched states four times after starting off with Gujarat back in 2012. He represented Tripura and Goa before finishing his first-class career with Baroda, and when asked about the same, the 28-year-old claimed that he kept moving around incessantly to ensure that his career never got stagnated.
"No doubt I've moved around teams, but I only did that because I didn't want to stagnate and get opportunities wherever I could. I didn't get picked in the IPL either, so I had to find ways to keep the wheel turning. I've had good stints at all the team's I've represented. Tripura and Goa were challenging because I was playing for teams wanting to prove themselves."
Should things go according to plan, Patel could officially represent the United States in international cricket in three years time (once he qualifies). That is still a long way away, but the journeyman attested that he would put in all the hard work he can to ensure that the second chapter of his career endures the best start possible.
"I spent a bit of time at the national camp, met JAK and the others. They have been pretty welcoming of me and the decision I've taken to try and forge a career here. I still must score runs, perform well and do everything asked of me to get selected. Mere eligibility doesn't guarantee anything, but I'm willing to put in the hard work and try and carve out a second coming of sorts in my career in America," he added.