August 26, 2012 - India beat Australia in the Under-19 World Cup final in Townsville by six wickets. The two stars of the day, skipper Unumkt Chand, who scored an unbeaten century and wicketkeeper Smit Patel, who slammed 62 not out off 84 have already moved to the United States in a hope of getting better opportunities and perhaps one day, go on to play for the national team.
Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, who picked up six wickets at 20.16 in that tournament is the latest to join them in the US after not getting his due after years of toiling in India. Harmeet, who has been playing in the US since 2020, will turn up for Seattle Thunderbolts in the Minor Cricket League (MCL).
Speaking on the reasoning behind his move to the States, Harmeet in a chat with Cricket.com said, “I was looking for better opportunities. I was not getting opportunities back home. I was searching state after state. I didn't know for how long I could have done that. Here (in the US), there is some sense of security. At the same time, I can pursue cricket without affecting my family.”
He further added that his decision to move abroad opens up a lot more opportunities.
“The main thing is that I am getting to play competitive cricket and not just in America. I could also play in other leagues as well. It opened a lot of other windows for me to play high level of competitive cricket. Later if there is a chance to play red-ball cricket anywhere in the world, I would love to play. But right now, America is playing white-ball cricket. I am happy and looking to stay in shape,” Harmeet added.
Since making his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai in 2009, he went on to play just nine matches in six years for the most successful team in the competition, followed by three games for Jammu & Kashmir and 14 more for Tripura.
There were a few occasions when Harmeet did want to move on to other states, but he was convinced by the officials in Mumbai to stay on as he was promised more opportunities, but that never materialised.
“Then the growth of any cricketer would stagnate if you keep anyone at home for three years. Playing club cricket does not build that fire in your belly to make you want to play the next level,” Harmeet said.
“I tried really hard going to other states. But I was getting states that were in the north or the north-east where the conditions are seamer-friendly as it's winter time when Ranji Trophy is scheduled. The first six games till January are usually over in two-two and a half days, so you're hardly bowling. As a spinner, it's really difficult to make a mark,” Harmeet, who was Tripura’s leading wicket-taker in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy said.
Pravin Tambe became the first Indian to play in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) when he turned up for Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in 2020. Smit Patel has been snapped up by Barbados Tridents this season and there could be an opportunity now for Harmeet to join the bandwagon.
USA is not just attracting Indians, but the likes of Corey Anderson and Pakistan opener Sami Aslam are already in the country in a bid to perhaps play for the country. USA have the ODI status and are looking to strengthen their team. Anderson and Aslam are already in the USA and are on their way to complete a three-year residency path and upon completion, they will be eligible to play for the national team.
While Harmeet’s dream of playing for India at the highest level did not materialise, he could still play international cricket when he is eligible. It may not be too far away.