When an 18-year-old Kamlesh Nagarkoti was running in to bowl in the U-19 World Cup, he had some of the biggest names in the game gushing over his bright future.
Ian Bishop and Sourav Ganguly amongst others were singing high praises, with the former even going on to tweet that he is someone the BCCI should keep an eye on for the future.
Consistently clocking close to 150kph, Nagarkoti looked a class apart and it seemed as if it would only be a matter of time before he gets an opportunity with the Indian team. An IPL contract with Kolkata Knight Riders worth Rs.3.2 crore followed soon before a career threatening back injury derailed the lanky pacer’s career.
He last played a List A game on February 14 2018 and has since missed two season’s of IPL and domestic cricket.
“It was tough, I used to get emotional watching the IPL on TV. All my teammates were playing and I was recovering from an injury.
“It used to be frustrating but my main aim was to get fit and get back on the ground. I worked really hard for that,” Nagarkoti told Cricketnext after his name was announced in the India squad for the Emerging Asia Cup tournament.
Bishop was amongst the first to point out that Nagarkoti’s action will make him susceptible to injuries and that is something the 19-year-old has corrected in his stint at the NCA. However, he assures that will no affect on the pace he generates.
“Coaches told me that my front-foot was going across and that was increasing the pressure on my back, I have made it bit more straight and I am comfortable with the action. There is no question of dropping my pace.”
Rahul Dravid – as coach of the U19 team - played a key role in Nagarkoti’s success and he also kept a close eye on him during the bowler’s recovery in NCA. Dravid cited the example of Pat Cummins to the youngster. Cummins too burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old before a back injury kept him out of the game for six long years.(Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Twitter)
“He (Dravid) never let negative thoughts come into my mind, he used to be with me in the nets and kept tracking my recovery. Always told me that he believed in my potential which really kept me motivated,” adds Nagarkoti.
Surendra Singh, who was amongst the first one to spot Nagarkoti in the maidans of Rajasthan is excited as well to see his pupil return to the field.
“It’s sad to see someone who likes to be on the ground being restricted to the bed because of injury. But he is slowly returning to his best, he’s practicing hard and his bowling rhythm is also back. I think we will see the best of him in the future.
“The type of injury he had, it can take upto four years to recover but he has done it in two. It shows how hard he has worked," says Singh.
Nagarkoti isn’t thinking too far ahead and is looking forward to once again impress the selectors.
“Whatever happened has happened, I am not thinking about it too much. I want to show everyone that I am still the same bowler and I am looking forward to whatever opportunity I get. I have worked hard on my body, diet to regain my fitness. “