Updated: January 5, 2022 9:25:12 am
Probably for the first time, the Ranji Trophy will welcome a sitting minister into its fold, as an active player. Manoj Tiwary, West Bengal’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, would turn up for the Bengal Ranji team, when the tournament starts on January 13.
At the moment, the 36-year-old is successfully ‘mixing’ sports and politics.
“I have built a core team that will do the job in my absence in my constituency. My team has the (local Trinamool Congress) block president, women’s wing head, members of our students wing and other experienced political leaders and our work force. So far, we haven’t faced any problem. We have been able to provide services at my constituency,” Tiwary told The Indian Express.
Bengal, in Group B, will play their group league fixtures in Bangalore, but the middle-order batsman believes that with right communication, the distance can be bridged.
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“I will be available on phone and will monitor everything, and I’m very confident that I will be able to shoulder the dual responsibility,” he said, adding that his wife would be helping him in his work.
Contesting for Trinamool Congress, Tiwary won from the Shibpur constituency in Howrah in the last Bengal Assembly elections. But he never thought about giving up cricket and had chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s “blessings”.
“I never thought about quitting cricket and I discussed it with our chief minister. She told me, ‘No problem, khel na (keep playing)’. This is my profession and passion, which is the reason I didn’t announce my retirement. Whatever I’m today is because of my cricket,” Tiwary said.
And the former Bengal captain, who has 12 ODIs, three T20Is and 125 first-class matches under his belt, is happy with his preparation for the Ranji Trophy. “I have played practice matches, a club game for Mohun Bagan and scored two centuries. My aim is to become the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy this season and if I can do that, Bengal will have a successful campaign. The seasons I have scored around 1,000 runs, Bengal have gone deep into the tournament,” Tiwary said, stressing that he would be in the dressing-room “as a senior player, as a brother and a team mate” and not as a minister.
He insisted that the dual responsibility won’t affect his focus, for he has a clear-cut way to manage his time while playing cricket. “In the evening, I look into the files and other office work and do the needful.”
Incidentally, the current Union Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur played first-class cricket before coming into active politics. Kirti Azad, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Tejashwi Yadav, too, hung up their cricket boots before joining politics.
Squad: Abhimanyu Easwaran (c), Manoj Tiwary, Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Abhishek Raman, Sudip Gharami, Abishek Das, Writtick Chatterjee, Ritwik Roy Chowdhury, Abhishek Porel, Shahbaz Ahmed, Sayan Sekhar Mondal, Akash Deep, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Kazi Junaid Saifi, Sakir Habib Gandhi, Pradipta Pramanik, Geet Puri, Nilakantha Das and Karan Lal.
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