Stay mentally healthy in these times, says Parthiv

Ace cricketer Parthiv Patel speaks to The Daily Guardian about his life in lockdown and how he is keeping himself busy these days.

Q: First of all, tell me what you have been doing during the lockdown and how has this phase been for you?

A: See, it has been frustrating and there is no doubt about it. I have never spent so much time at home. For the past 20 years, I don’t think any cricketer or anyone would have done it. But while staying at home has been frustrating, it also has been a blessing in disguise for me. I would not get time to spend with my daughter and now I am spending time with my family. I have started reliving my hobby of cooking, which I used to love and now that I have got time, I am doing it. I have been training hard to stay fit. I almost spend 2.5-3 hours training at home. So, yes it has been a bit frustrating, but when you don’t have a choice you try to find a way and that is what sports have taught all of us. It has taught us that you need to find a way with whatever you have and that is what we have been trying to do.

Q: Parthiv, let’s also talk about this pandemic. In fact, after Maharashtra, Gujarat is extremely ravaged by Covid-19. How do you think the country and the states in particular have responded to this virus?

A: The situation in Gujarat has become worse since last week. We can see the numbers growing fast. I am sure that our government is trying its best to stop this pandemic, but I think it is our responsibility too. We should stay at home. As we say in cricket, you cannot win a game only by a batsman scoring a century, you need someone to take wickets also. So, it is not only the government’s responsibility but also ours. I know this period is getting stretched but the more we stay at home, the more we will help the government and the virus will be gone quickly.

Q: This is one question that I ask all sportspersons: you can go to your gym, you can watch your diet, but for a cricketer, going to the nets, playing on the ground, is absolutely sacrosanct, and that is not happening. What is going to happen when cricket resumes?

A: That is a big question. What best we can do is visualise… try to hit the ball in a smaller area and try to ensure that our coordination is there, but as you rightly said, once the lockdown opens it is not going to be easy for any athlete or any sportsman to get back to the skill levels they possess. So, certainly, a lot of hard work will be required. We would have been playing IPL by now, but yes, a lot of over-timing would be required to get back on track.

Q: Since you spoke of the IPL, you have been a part of six different teams in IPL. You have also played under a number of captains. Who has been your favourite and why?

A: When we talk about IPL, I have played under M.S. Dhoni for three years. He is someone who is highly regarded. He allows everyone to be their true self. He gives everyone space to express themselves on the ground and this is his biggest quality. He succeeded in making sure that the atmosphere of the team stays on the same level, whether it is a win or a loss. So, I think this is his biggest quality. To answer your question, of all the captains I liked playing under was Dhoni. I also liked playing under Mahela Jayawardene. He has been the captain of the Sri Lankan team for so many years and he has also been successful.

Q: You have played in South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia… As a cricketer, which of these countries you found the opposition to be the hardest?

A: When I went to Australia in 2003-04, that was the probably the strongest Australian team of that era. Circumstances were different from now. When we went in 2003-04, wickets had bounce, pace. To me, I think, Australian conditions and the crowd…you know when you are not doing well, they keep reminding you that you are down and out. So, I think Australia has been the toughest place and team to play.

Q: Sports fans are desperate for some cricket. If cricket is to resume, which format according to you should be started at this point in time?

A: Actually, you know I am in a position that even if you allow me to go on exile I will go. Any format which is viable for everyone should get started. But I think at this point in time, we need more entertainment. In fact, everyone needs entertainment and there is not a better entertainment than the T20 format.

Q: Have you picked up any new skills in the recent past, in these times?

A: I have been trying my hand in commentary. I had a few commentary sessions with stars during the World Cup and even in the home series in West Indies. I had done an online course on media and broadcasting. So, I am trying to use this time to learn something about media and broadcasting. I see my future in that post-retirement, so I am trying to pick it up. And yes, I am also cooking every day. I have learned to cook Thai food.

Q: We know the world is changing, and by the time this pandemic is gone everything is going to be up for a change. How do you see cricket changing once this is over?

A: I think the real battle will start once everything is lifted. I believe everyone will have to be strong mentally because there will be a lot of decisions that will need to be taken. I am not worried about cricket as much as the economy and related things. My advice to everyone is to stay healthy mentally so that we can make the right decisions.

Q: Last question before we let you go. What has been your favourite memory of the brilliant cricketing career that you had?

A: There are a couple of memories. Beating Pakistan in Pakistan for the first time in a Test series. The 2017 IPL finals when we won by one run. In the domestic front, winning the Ranji Trophy, I think that is a very big achievement for a team like Gujarat. So, these are the three best memories that will stay with me for long.