Dressed in a pair of jeans and shirt, Sairaj Bahutule — who announced his retirement from first-class cricket on January 1 in Nagpur — wanted to say goodbye one last time. On Thursday, he interacted with the local media for a heart-to-heart talk at Bandra’s MIG Cricket Club.
The 40-year-old spoke about his stint with Mumbai — for whom he first played in 1991 — before moving to greener pastures. The leg-spinner considers winning the Ranji Trophy for Mumbai (on six occasions) his biggest achievement. “All of them are special. You can’t chose one. The seasons when we won the Ranji Trophy are the most special. Maybe winning the title as a captain (in 2003-04) could be a bit more special,” he said.
Bahutule, who finished with 630 first-class wickets and also played a couple of Tests and ODIs, said he didn’t have any regrets. “Anil Kumble was doing very well at that time. Then players, especially the spinners, weren’t persisted with like they are these days. The mindset in that era was different. However, I have no regrets,” he said.
For Bahutule, playing for Mumbai was like playing for India. He said: “Half the players in the Indian team were from Mumbai. The dressing room was full of Indian players and the atmosphere was different. We had Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, Sameer Dighe, Paras Mhambrey and others. It looked like an international dressing room.”
Bahutule left Mumbai after playing his part in the 2008-09 Ranji Trophy triumph. He played for Assam, followed by Andhra and Vidarbha. “I did not want to occupy the place of a youngster who deserved it. I believe in giving opportunity to youngsters. Also, I got lucrative offers from other teams. I am a self-made man, and I had to fulfil some needs. That’s why I had to leave Mumbai,” he added.
Bahutule got emotional while talking about a life-changing accident he suffered in 1990. Bahutule, who batted left-handed, has set his eyes on coaching. “I will be coaching the Vidarbha outfit in the one-dayers (Vijay Hazare Trophy) . I would also like to serve Mumbai in the future,” he said.