How would you remember your first-class career, right from your debut match in 1993-94 when you scored 260 against Haryana till now?
It’s been an incredible journey, kind of a roller-coaster ride. Every moment was special. I never thought I would play for so long.
Which were your best years?
My first five years, I would say. In my first season, I averaged 85. There were ups and downs in the subsequent years when I was ignored for India selection.
Must have been frustrating...
Really frustrating. I did not find mention in the list of India probables or even a single camp. I didn’t get the opportunity to show the coach and the captain what I could do. However, those disappointments acted as a different kind of motivation. I would run five to 10 metres extra and put in more hard work.
When was your best chance to represent India?
Till 1998, I thought I had a chance. In the 1996-97 season, I got centuries in the Ranji quarters, semis and in the Irani Cup. I cried when I was not selected even in the Challenger Trophy list of 45 players. I was flabbergasted.
How would you react when India squads were announced?
Earlier, I would find it shocking, but gradually it became a routine. I would get frustrated but never disheartened as there were certain things that motivated me.
And what were they?
Motivation is different every year. Initially, my aim was to get that India cap. But in the last five or six years, the motivation was different. I’ve realised there is more to life than playing cricket for India. Honestly, I feel it doesn’t matter a great deal if you don’t play for the country. You give a hundred percent at whatever grade of cricket you play — be it club, office, state, Ranji team or India.
Does a domestic superstar get the same respect as an international cricketer?
No. International cricket is a different ball game altogether. There is no comparison. They are looked after and well paid. A lot has to be done for lesser-known teams.
Do you feel you missed chances because of your peer group (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman)?
I don’t think so. They were big players but VVS arrived later. I still feel I could have got an opportunity. Look at Pujara, unless you tested him in the international waters, you didn’t know how good he was. I was younger than Tendulkar, Dravid and Sourav. There is always a generation shift in every four years. I could have got a look-in when Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh or Mohammad Kaif came in as I was younger.
Would you like to be reborn as Amol Muzumdar?
Given a choice, I would not like to play cricket again. I would like to be born as Roger Federer. And if I have no choice, I would be happy to be born as Amol Muzumdar.