It’s been a huge year for Meghalaya cricket with the state team taking part in domestic tournaments for the first time. We caught up with men’s team captain Jason Jarman Lamare, who led Meghalaya in the one-day Vijay Hazare Trophy and first class Ranji Trophy…
TSR: Captain, how would you assess Meghalaya’s performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Ranji Trophy? Did the team’s performance match up to expectations?
Lamare: For our first season we have done really well in both formats. The initial plan was to be the top team in the North East which we are (in the Ranji Trophy) and then take it from there. We could have been in the third position overall (Meghalaya finished fourth in the Plate Group) but for a few silly mistakes we made.
TSR: How was your own performance in these two tournaments? We saw some promising innings from you in the one-day tournament (one half-century and a couple of 40s) and then you started well with the bat in the Ranji (70 against Arunachal Prades), but couldn’t get big scores later on. Did that disappoint you personally?
And how did it compare playing for your own state to when you played for Assam more than 10 years ago?
Lamare: Yes, I’m definitely very disappointed with my own own performance in the Ranji Trophy. After a decent start I thought it was going to be a good season but that didn’t happen. Hopefully I’ll bat better next time.
As a cricketer whether you play for any state one has to be motivated. Playing for your state, however, gives you more motivation as you play and make your state proud together. You want your state to do well and get recognised knowing that we can play at this level.
TSR: How was it in having the three guest/professional players – Gurinder Singh, Yogesh Nagar and Punit Bisht – in the Meghalaya team? We seemed to have relied on them for a lot of runs. Were they good at integrating with the rest of the team?
Lamare: They are top class players and we got the best out of them. They have done an amazing job for us and we hope to retain them for the next season.
But there were also some great performances and contributions from our local players too, which made us the top team in the North East.
TSR: Do you think that Meghalaya batted for too long against Sikkim in the Ranji Trophy? Naba Bhattacharjee (the Meghalaya Cricket Association Honorary Secretary) said as much and that it cost the team too much time when trying to bowl Sikkim out. What was going through your head at the time when deciding on when Meghalaya should declare their huge first innings?
Lamare: The wicket plays a lot on how a match result will be. We had won the toss and fielded first keeping in mind the dew on the wicket on the first day. We got them out for 219. We had given Sikkim one and a half days, or 120 overs, to get get them out in the two innings.
But they batted well in the second innings. Milind Kumar, one of Sikkim’s batsmen, is the top scorer across all states in the Ranji Trophy (with 1,331 runs) and he scored centuries in both innings. Even the Sikkim locals batted the whole day, which saved their team from an outright victory by us.
TSR: What’s next for the team? Is this likely to be the same squad that take part in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, which begins later this month?
Lamare: As much as we can we have to try and have the same team accept for maybe one or two changes. Right now we have to try and blend in playing at this level and in all three formats in order for results to come our way.
TSR: Finally, what do you think the future looks like for Meghalaya cricket? Do you see enough youth coming into the game? Are you hopeful in terms of better facilities and infrastructure? And are you hopeful that the inclusion of Meghalaya and other small states will continue in the domestic scene?
Lamare: It’s too early to say what the future holds but there is encouragement as we are the top team in the North East, which shows that we can play at this level.
To get the youth involved they have to eat and sleep cricket, which means many more tournaments, to make them understand that they have a chance to play with the best cricketers in the country and also with some Indian national team cricketers, and also that a cricketer can make a career and a good living out of cricket now.
At the moment we need basic infrastructure so that we can practice all year. But if we are looking to put Meghalaya on the cricket map we need to have the best facilities.
We also need to change our attitude and mindset now that we are competing with the best teams and best cricketers in India.
Most of the big teams struggled to play at this level in the beginning, but the BCCI gave them a chance. Vidarbha were nowhere a couple of years back but were the Ranji champions last year. We may be struggling now but the results will come. We are fortunate that the BCCI has given us a chance. Ultimately we have to prove ourselves.
(TSR file photo)