Former Punjab player Manish Sharma will soon venture into a new territory. The Amritsar-based opener,who was part of India U-19 team that clinched the World Cup in 2000 (Sri Lanka),has announced his retirement from first-class cricket and will now be seen in a role of selector for Punjab Cricket Association (PCA). He will succeed former Ranji Trophy cricketer Arun Sharma as the state selector.
Manish,32,who played his early cricket at the Gandhi Ground in Amritsar,will now be representing Amritsar during the state teams selection meetings for Punjab U-19,U-25 and senior teams.
Talking about his second innings,Manish expressed his excitement: “I will surely miss playing cricket for Amritsar and Punjab. It is very difficult to stay away from the sport when you have been attached to it all your life. My life has always revolved around playing cricket. I decided to stop playing for Amritsar last season. Seeing the talent of Amritsar openers Rohan Marwaha and Karan Sharma,I made that decision. I am keenly looking forward to this stint of a selector. I have been closely following Amritsar cricket and it would be exciting to analyse the performances of the players.”
Another former cricketer from Amritsar,Sandeep Sawal,has been made coach of the U-19 Punjab team.
Manish,who made his Ranji debut for Punjab in 2000,played 31 first-class and 17 List A matches. Manish was one of the 13 cricketers who left the BCCI fold to join the ‘rebel’ Indian Cricket League (ICL) in a mass exodus a few years ago. Though he took amnesty from ICL and returned to the BCCI fold,his domestic career could not take off. Apart from playing for Air India,Manish did not feature in any of the Punjab’s major teams.
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There was a time when Harvinder Singh,Rarvneet Ricky,Manish Sharma played pivotal roles for Punjab Ranji team. Thereafter,Amritsar cricket saw a slump and players from other districts came to the fore. But for the past two years,Amritsar cricket has shown steep rise. Players like Chandan Madan and Kamal Passi have done well for Punjab teams. Talking highly of the Amritsar talent,Manish had this to say: “We have some exciting cricketers who are very talented. In the U-19 section,there are left-arm spinner Rohit Kumar and medium-pacer Kamal Passi. Then there are off-spinner Charanjit Singh,Chandan Madan and Sharad Loomba who are doing well for Amritsar. In the coming years,these cricketers will serve Punjab well.”