In Conversion with USA International & Leeds-Bradford UCCE player Abhishek Paradkar

Abhishek Paradkar is an American cricketer who plays for the United States cricket team, and also the Leeds-Bradford UCCE cricketing program. In June 2021, he was selected to take part in the Minor League Cricket tournament in the United States following the players’ draft.

First of all, how has the MCCU training been so far this year? Are you enjoying it?

“So far, the MCCU training has been amazing. It is the perfect way to build a solid base of strength and fitness that I feel is a must to avoid breakdown leading into a long season which involves a number of multi-day games and high-intensity ODI and T20 cricket as well. Personally, I love getting my hours in the gym everyday and so for me to be able to do this with the boys is great and I’m enjoying every bit of it. A lot of teams and programs downplay the importance of the off-season so its great to be a part of a good professional setup.”

Perfect, great to hear! Do you feel a benefit from the S&C and cardio training sessions through the winter leading up to the season?

“This is my first complete off-season with the team as I was stuck in India last year so I guess I could better answer this question in a month’s time. However, I did follow a home program last winter that was handed out by Tim and I can confidently say that the strength and conditioning sessions did benefit me as I had a great following season without any injury and very minimal fatigue. I do not like doing cardio of any sort so really pushing myself to follow the program and getting those conditioning sessions in really improved my fitness and endurance and I now appreciate the importance of it.”

Glad to see you’re feeling the benefits of the winter training. Let’s talk about cricket. Are you excited about the upcoming tour with the USA? How long is the tour altogether?

“Yes I am definitely excited about the upcoming USA tour as it is potentially a big tour for me. I am travelling to Houston in a week’s time to play the first ever National Championships for the West Zone Reds. This is a tournament where all the top players in USA compete against each other. Each team plays 3 games with the top 2 teams making it through to the finals. The tournament will last a total of 6 days. It also serves as potential selection games for upcoming USA tours and for attaining contracts renewing in 2022. I am really looking forward to getting back in USA colours and giving my best on the field.”

Do you have any personal goals for the tournament?

“Personally, I plan to just keep doing what I’ve been doing the whole of last season. I am confident that if I stick to executing my plans, rewards will follow. I feel my strength when bowling is consistency and hitting the right areas and that is what I plan to continue doing. In the 3 matches that my team play, a more specific goal would be to stay under an economy of 4 runs per over and get as close to 10 wickets or more. In terms of batting, I haven’t got as much batting time in the middle last season as I would’ve liked so I plan to bat as long as possible with whatever opportunity I get. I am confident that if I stay and the crease and bat myself in, I can then get the runs.”

Let’s hope you can execute your plans to the best of your ability! Do the team have any goals for the tournament?

“I think the main goal for the team would be, of course, to win the tournament. I feel this tournament would really help players to better get to know each other and play alongside potential future teammates.”

Regarding the MCCU, what do you like the most about the scheme?

“I like the professionalism in the manner the whole program is carried out. Starting right from the off-season training to the start of the season right through to the last game, the intensity of the cricket played remains high throughout and that’s the kind of cricket that’s played at the highest level. The MCCU scheme really prepares the players well for the next level, which is county, by structuring a lot of the training and season similar to the way it would be in a county team. Every year the team has the opportunity to play against strong county sides and, in my opinion, this really gives the players an idea of what they need to improve on and learn from the professionals.”

Really interesting stuff regarding the level of professionalism needed for a UCCE player! For someone that is considering going to university and planning to join the MCCU, what advice can you give them?

“Well, I would 100% encourage them to join the scheme if they are really committed to cricket. It is a very training-intensive program and can get pretty busy during the week but a good sense of time management can really make things easier when it comes to managing cricket and university. The MCCU is a big stepping stone in a player’s development and journey to playing professional cricket and I would strongly recommend this to anyone looking to play cricket in University in the UK.”

Thanks for all your answers Abhishek. Finally, how did you find making your debut for the USA? And also how excited are you for the future and the opportunity of playing in a 50 over World Cup?

“I guess it’s every cricketer’s dream to represent the country they call home and this was mine come true. It was an amazing feeling getting my first international cap and am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me. I loved the intensity of the players every time we walked out onto the field and that just drove me to give my 120%. Ending up with 4 wickets on my debut was the icing on the cake. USA are currently battling it out for a spot in the next 50-over World Cup and the thought of being able to play in a World Cup against the top-tier nations is very exciting. The future for USA is very bright and we’ve got a great group of experienced and youth players as well as a great coaching and support staff. I am really looking forward to getting back on the field for USA in the coming years and giving my best.”

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