ON SATURDAY, as 36-year-old former Indian pacer Manpreet Singh Gony announced his retirement from all forms of cricket through a letter sent to the Punjab Cricket Association, Gony’s long-time coach Sukhwinder Tinkoo was seeing the old pictures of his trainee and remembering his first days into the sport. Gony, who played in two ODIs for India apart from playing in 61 first class matches for Punjab and 44 IPL matches, brought down curtains on his 12-year-long first class and international career. Gony will now play for Toronto Nationals in the Global T20 Canada league.
“I remember seeing him in 2000 on the day I opened my academy in Phase IV in Mohali. A tall teenager had come to see the opening of the academy and I thought I will make this youngster inaugurate the academy. Later, I told him to bowl and Manpreet Gony impressed us all. He made his way to Punjab junior teams and in a U-19 trial held at PCA Stadium, he picked up all the 10 wickets. He had the speed and accuracy and that helped him make his debut for Punjab against Andhra in 2007 and later saw him play for India and for various teams in IPL. He was one of the fastest and accurate bowlers for Punjab. If he had not faced injuries, he would have played in more matches and picked up more wickets,” Tinkoo said.
A 23-year-old Gony had made his first class debut at Amritsar against Andhra Pradesh and the pacer picked up one wicket in that match. A year later, Gony became the highest wicket-taker for Chennai Super Kings in the first edition of IPL and was the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 17 wickets. It meant that he was named in the Indian ODI team for Bangladesh tour and later made his debut for Indian team against Hong Kong in Asian Cup played in Pakistan. In his second and last ODI match for India, Gony picked up two wickets against Bangladesh before he was dropped.
In his first class career, Gony claimed 196 wickets in 61 matches before his retirement and also played for teams like Chennai Super Kings, Deccan Chargers, Kings XI Punjab and Deccan Chargers in IPL, a tournament in which he claimed 37 wickets in 44 matches in his career. “Getting a chance to play under M S Dhoni for Chennai Super Kings in IPL in 2008 was a career changing moment for Gony and he proved that he was one of the fastest bowlers in India at that time. It was unfortunate that he struggled with injuries and could not play for India after playing 2 ODIs but he impressed in whatever chances he got in IPL and for Punjab in Ranji Trophy. He had talked about retirement with me before going to Canada this year and I am sure he will be associated in cricket in one form or the other,” Tinkoo said.
Gony also played in last Ranji Trophy season for Punjab and claimed 12 wickets, which also included a five-wicket haul against Tamil Nadu at Mohali. In his first class career, Gony had two 10-wicket hauls and 10 ten-wicket hauls. “Manpreet paji was the backbone of fast bowling for Punjab since his first class debut for the team and I also got chance to see and play against him in IPL in 2010 and the following years. I remember one of his spells against Mumbai in Mumbai in Ranji Trophy where he claimed four wickets out of last six wickets and he was also a good batsman. If he had not suffered injury and fitness issues, he could have played more for India. During last season of Ranji Trophy, he bowled fast and also picked up five wickets against Tamil Nadu in Mohali. Young pacers also learnt a lot from him,” said Mandeep Singh, Punjab captain.