While playing for a local cricket club in 2004-05 season, it had already dawned upon Parashar Joshi that he wouldn’t be able to make a career as a cricketer. Despite knowing this, he kept playing for two reasons – to maintain physical fitness and most importantly to stay in touch with the sport that he admired and loved so much since he was a teenager.
After completing his bachelors in engineering from PICT Pune, Joshi went on to follow his other passion of singing. He almost became a star singer at Indian Idol with an entry into the top 15 candidates of the TV music show in 2009. But life took another dramatic turn and the 30-year-old found out that he was indeed destined for cricket, the first love of his life.
In an exam conducted by BCCI earlier this month, where renowned Australian umpire Simon Taufel, former member of the ICC Elite umpire club, was the chief examiner, Joshi passed with flying colours and was inducted in the BCCI’s panel of umpires. He is now all set to moderate national first-class tournaments.
How did he achieve this feat? It’s an interesting story, he says. “I had been playing club cricket since 1997. Not only I loved playing the game, I loved to watch it, to judge it and to analyze it. In 2011, there was a small ad by Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) in newspaper, offering a course in umpiring. I applied for it, just to gain more knowledge. Gradually, I started loving it,” says Joshi. He went to clear several exams including theory, refreshers, preparatory and practical to finally set up an interview with Taufel. The interview took place at National Association of Umpires premises in Nagpur. “It is an amazing feeling. An umpire is in the best possible position to watch a match. I’m looking forward to a career in this field.”
Apart from Joshi, Swarupanand Kannur, a 24-year-old techie from Pune, is also in the final 19 umpires inducted in the panel from a total 57 candidates. Like Joshi, Kannur too played as a club cricket as a medium pacer for PYC Gymkhana. He gave up cricket to concentrate on academics.
He too registered for MCA’s course and eventually got selected in BCCI panel. On being interviewed by Simon Taufel, Kannur says, “It was the most exciting half hour. He was more keen to know about us, as individuals, rather than our technical knowledge of the game. I think he wanted to see our passion for the game. After the results, I realised one thing. Many teenagers think their life is wasted because they can’t get selected in the district, state or national cricket team. But no one looks at such golden opportunities. BCCI conducts this exam once in five years and those who work hard, get their reward.”
Joshi and Kannur will soon join the pool of 120 umpires, who look over the junior and senior tournaments conducted by the BCCI. Do they have aspirations of ICC? “Of course yes. But it’s a long way. You have to prove your quality. The top 4 or 5 are nominated to ICC by BCCI,” says Kannur. Other than Joshi and Kannur, Sandeep Chavan of Nashik and Anil Sahasrabuddhe of Solapur have also been inducted in the BCCI panel.