Not until now, many would have heard of the name Saurabh Netravalkar. For those who aren't aware, he was born in Mumbai and came through the youth ranks of the domestic circuit before being selected in the Mumbai Ranji squad as a 17-year-old before graduating to represent India Under 19’s with great aplomb.
The biggest achievement of his youth playing career was being India's highest wicket-taker in their 2010 Under 19 World Cup campaign, but it was an outing to forget after the Men In Blue made an early quarterfinal exit in New Zealand.
Interestingly, he shared the same dressing room with likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, who are the currently dubbed as the future of Indian cricket. Just like his team-mates, Saurabh Netravalkar also wished to represent the country at the highest level, but he quit the sport thinking it would be difficult for him to make a name for himself in the big league.
The Mumbai-born medium pacer left for the US, in order to pursue computer science at Cornell University. And fast-forward to today, he has been named the captain of the US National Cricket team.
While Saurabh had partially given up hopes of pursuing cricket professionally ever again, it was fate that brought him close to the sport he loved the most. It was during his graduation years in Cornell, that Saurabh rediscovered his passion for the game and he kept it going after he scored a job with Oracle as a software engineer.
It is believed that Saurabh would drive six hours every weekend from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to pursue his passion. The Mumbai lad along with his co-worker would leave office a little early on Friday, and drive down to LA, where they would play a 50-over game on Saturday. They would later drive back at night and play another 50-over game on Sunday in San Francisco.
However, the popularity of cricket is slowly picking back in the United States, as it is still in its nascent stages. As per ICC reports, the game is played in around 48 states with over 400 leagues, 6,000 teams and more than 200,000 participants.
The US National cricket team is a mix of players mainly from India, Pakistan and West Indies. The team travels to Oman next where they will play in the ICC World Cricket League Division 3, which is a qualifier of sorts for the ICC World Cup 2023.