Deft wrist work. Inimitable buoyancy. A penchant to win! Meet the 19 year old emerging star of UAE cricket, Ansh Tandon, the left-handed batsman out to conquer the world.
Having been invited to practice with a group of emerging players with the Indian Premier League franchise Punjab Kings, Tandon certainly has a lot going up his sleeves. COVID 19 may have daunted his chances to make his UAE debut in the series against Ireland earlier this year, but opportunities come to those who are prepared. It is every cricketer’s dream to play in the IPL, the biggest franchise tournament in the whole world and Ansh Tandon is a notch closer to achieving it. His favourite quote – ‘Trust the process’ – which translates into don’t worry about the results, just continue to work hard, stay focused and all else will fall in place.
The journey it seems has just begun for this ‘Wonderkid’!
How did cricket happen to you?
I came to the UAE when I was about five; I was basically born in Delhi, India. This must have been when I was nine or ten years old, and I did not have many friends, I was not much into activities or sports. One day while returning home from some place I had gone out with my father, I spotted a few children playing down in my building playing cricket. I wanted to play with them, because I wanted some activity. Well, my father spoke to them and helped me befriend the kids. That could be cited as the beginning, but the real thing happened when my father realized my keen interest in the game and asked if I would like to get professional coaching and pursue my career in cricket. He enrolled me in an academy and gradually I started representing school in my cricket. The first academy I went to was Madina Academy, followed by Sharjah cricket academy and then the Young Talents Cricket Academy. I did very well there and would be featured in my school magazines and in the newspapers. I will not say my training is over, but now it is all about practice to get better. Now it is all about yourself, your mindset and what works for you. It is about dedication, working on your strengths and being in touch with the game to keep improving each day.
Every player has an idol. Who is yours, and why?
My idol has always been Virat Kohli! Undoubtedly! I mean although I’m a left-handed batsman, and we are not similar in our styles, yet I really idolize Virat Kohli. What I like the most about him is his aggression for the game, and I think I kind of share the same aggression when on the field. You see, there is this good kind of aggression and bad aggression and what we have is the ‘good aggression’. This kind of transcends into the way we play, fuels the fire in our bellies to play well and win games. So, it is Virat Kohli.
When you play with a team, you have two roles. Play your personal best while also with the team. What according to you is important?
Cricket is not one man’s game – it is the entire team! I guess this goes hand in hand and obviously the primary goal would be to do well for the team and not for yourself. But then, at the same time one needs to ensure you don’t fall below your standards. One must know one’s strengths and weaknesses, and if you are uncomfortable with something, you might just as well accept and express that so that somebody better can take over. This leads to benefitting the team as a whole.
What is your biggest ambition?
My biggest ambition is to represent any team in the IPL and obviously wear the Indian team logo on my chest.
What is your opinion about cricket in the UAE?
I must admit, we have come a long way from where I started some years ago. Now the domestic players are getting international exposure. The IPL, then the T20 World Cup and many other leagues are all happening in Dubai even this year. The international exposure we are getting and the tournaments that the UAE team is taking part in is doing well. UAE is a diverse country, and the best talents from different countries get to play. So the competition is intense, exposure is tremendous and so are the opportunities.
To ace in any field, it takes a tremendous amount of hard work. Your comments.
Your question says it all. The most important thing is to show up daily, that’s what matters. To show up at training daily, to show up at fitness daily and to be smart enough to know when you need to rest. Each day one needs to wake up with the same amount of passion and hunger to do well. One needs to keep reminding oneself about the goals, about the big goals which you aspire to achieve. Stay dedicated and focused, and eventually things will fall in place. Each day may not be the same – I mean you might not have scored a 100 every day, or get five wickers every day. What you need to remember is there are tons of games ahead in your life. My mantra is – trust the process – a quote for three words I truly believe in.
Tell us about your most memorable moment in cricket.
My most memorable moment of the game so far has been in the under-19 Asia cup when I scored 100 against Sri Lanka in the year 2019. I was recognized as the first batsman to score 100 against a test-playing nation. You know the UAE is an associate country when it comes to cricket and I was the first associate batsman to score 100 against a nation like that. This has been my biggest achievement so far and I am proud of that.
What is special about you, what sets you apart from the rest?
I work on my fitness a lot, just like Virat Kohli – the fittest cricketer ever on the planet right now. Sometimes I play two games in one day and sometimes it is just practice. Irrespective, I must hit the gym daily and once there, I just do not feel like getting off for at least 2 hours. In my routine, I play three to four hours of cricket daily, and may go on for longer than that. Fitness or gym happens prior or later, but must happen each day. I am a fitness freak – that is what I like about myself.
So, how does college fit into all this?
Well, it has been online so far and I have managed to balance it all well. I complete my submissions on time. I plan everything so there is adequate time even if there are corrections to be done. I do not miss out on any assignment and my attendance track records have been good.
Tell us about your experience practicing with a group of emerging players for the Indian Premier League franchise Punjab Kings.
Basically as I told you, my goal is to play for any team in the IPL and I keep sending my videos to the teams. One of the managers happened to see my videos, got in touch with me and offered to train. I went to Mumbai amidst the pandemic and had a tremendous learning experience. Words are not enough to describe the experience because you know it’s just another level, the top most level of cricket. There were big names in cricket coaching you and for upcoming cricketers like us, certainly a huge stepping-stone.
What has been your greatest learning experience so far?
Having skills is an important thing in cricket but I believe (not just me, in fact many legends there would agree) it is all about the mindset. You may be amazing with your hand movements or be skilled at batting or bowling, but if you’re not strong mentally you might not be able to give your best. Many cricketers have said that cricket is 90% mental and 10% skill. If you are not mentally stable, you might not be able to give your best. Each game is a new story; one should not be carrying baggage from the previous game or even the previous day to the field. For example, you might have got a duck, or a zero in one of the previous games played. If you come to the field with the earlier experiences, one tends to get cautious, our mind plays truant – perhaps holds you back to do your best for that day. This way you will never be able to deliver your best to the cricket in the current game because your mind is in the past. Not only in cricket, I guess in life one has to be in the present.
There are many aspiring cricketers in the UAE. Do you have a message for them?
Cricket is a funny game and it is not necessary that you will do well in every game. Like I mentioned before – trust the process! Stay focused, be always open to keep learning and be honest to yourself. Correct your errors consistently and that is how you will be able to get better at your work. If you do not learn to correct yourself at this domestic level, you might not be able to deliver your best as you go higher. When it comes to coaches, it is important to have someone looking at you. For me it was Coach Robin Singh, who not only sharpened my skills but also worked on my mindset and brought a great change in the way I perceived cricket. The most important thing to note is, no matter what happens just continue to work hard.
When will you think you have arrived?
Obviously, there is no full stop to achievements. There are two types of goals – short term and long term. To keep training hard would be my short term goal and the long term goal, I would say is when I play in any of the IPL teams…not just play but do well and eventually you know represent my home country India, wearing the Indian team logo on my chest. That is when I will know I have arrived.