‘Our lives are defined by the opportunities, even by the ones we missed’
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
When Virat Kohli led a bunch of young Turks to an unprecedented triumph in Malaysia back in 2008, a certain left-arm all-rounder was back in India wondering what could have been had he been on the plane.
There was the disappointment, yes, but then there was also a belief, and this belief has simmered through; it has been his accomplice ever since!
An opportunity was missed, a valuable lesson was learnt.
Swapnil Singh’s career has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride and the 26-year-old has witnessed disappointments and then tasted success, all the while slogging it in the dirt and din of Ranji cricket.
However, he has never let the adversities get to him and the consistent performances have forced people to speak about him, albeit with muffled voices, but with 565 runs and 20 wickets in six matches for Baroda this season, Swapnil has sprung back to life.
Sportskeeda caught up with him and in a freewheeling chat, he spoke about his career and future plans.
This season has, in many ways, been the best for you, both with the bat and ball. What has changed for you as a player?
To be frank, nothing has changed as far as preparations are concerned, they are pretty much the same. But yes, I have worked hard on the mental aspect and tried to be mentally in the right space and probably this has been the reason for the success this season.
What exactly is being in a good mental space? What have you done?
I have meditated and this has been a big reason for the positivity. I constantly speak with myself, reminding myself of the bigger picture and always being in a positive frame of mind.
Personally, you were brilliant, but things did not quite work out for Baroda. Why did the team not qualify for the knockouts?
As a senior player if I sit down and reflect, I believe that our season was quite good compared to the previous ones. The results went in our favour and although we won only a solitary game, the performances of the players were satisfactory.
We are fourth this season (in group C), which is an improvement from the earlier seasons where we were sixth or seventh, so yes, performances have improved.
However, the biggest takeaway for the team will have to be the bonding and camaraderie we shared right through the season.
Did the sacking of Irfan Pathan have any effect on the team?
Picking and dropping players depends on the selectors and it is entirely their call.
Having said this, the team atmosphere was quite good since all the players were kept in the loop and this was not thrown at us as a surprise.
What was the response of Irfan and did it hamper any personal relationships within the team?
Look, he is a big player and a mature person. He made sure that despite the turn of events, he did not sour relationships with the team.
He personally spoke with the team and wished us all success for the rest of the season. There was a team message from his end and this gesture was really very good on his part.
I am not fully aware of what happened off the field after this incident.
How was the transition from Irfan Pathan to Deepak Hooda?
Look, this Baroda team is a professional unit and we know that these harsh steps can be taken, but this should not, and it did not, tarnish anything within the team.
Like I said earlier, we are a closely knit unit and hence when Deepak took charge, everyone was perfectly fine with the decision.
How has the IPL influenced you, both personally and professionally?
I give a lot of credit to my stint with the Kings XI Punjab for the positive mental state I am in right now.
Sharing the dressing room with International players is itself a dream for many young players. We had Ishant Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Hashim Amla, who are all such big players. I learnt so much from them about insights into the game, how to go about preparation and how to deal with various situations. Yes, I have only grown as a player after these interactions.
Any specific tip from Hashim Amla which has helped you this season?
Yes, I am still in touch with Hashim bhai and he has helped me a lot in practically everything, which includes the mental part and how to hone my skills.
He is such a kind person. Despite being such a huge name in cricket, he is always willing to help people out. I mean, I could, without any hesitation, sit down with him and he would talk to me about the game, about batting, about everything in general.
His inputs on preparing for the day game has really helped me this season and I cannot thank him enough.
And then there was Virender Sehwag, the mentor of Kings XI Punjab. What was his role, his impact on the team when results were not in your favour?
Very simple philosophy, just go out and play your part, watch the ball and hit it, give your best and do not worry about the results.
He did not change at all, in fact even when we were losing, he looked at the positive aspects and never said anything negative.
But then, he did point out few areas of concerns and offered suggestions to improve, but at the end of the day, he backed all the players and kept supporting them.
You had Glenn Maxwell as the captain. He was the captain for the first time. How would you rate his captaincy?
He was a very good leader, his biggest strength was his communication with the players. On the ground, I believe he was excellent, a person you could walk up to and voice concerns.
But not everything was jovial was it? Sehwag lashed out at Maxwell at the end of the tournament. Did you feel the tension in the dressing room too?
Nothing like that. Whatever happened, the entire episode took place after the IPL season ended.
As a team, we never felt any sort of tension in the dressing room during the tournament. This is all I can say about it.
With the IPL auctions coming up next year, are you hopeful of bagging a contract with any of the teams?
Look, I have done my part, I had to perform and I am satisfied with whatever I’ve done this Ranji season in both the departments.
As far as the contract is concerned, the teams have their own scouts and management teams which rope in players, so it is now their job.
I am now looking forward to the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, which I believe will be a big catchment area for many of these scouts, so yes, I have to perform there and then look ahead.
I do not want to think too far ahead and put undue pressure on myself!