Newyorkcricket.com had the privilege of speaking with USA cricketer Japen Hitesh Patel, and he opened up about his work ethic, preparation for Team USA selection, his love of cooking, and other things. Here is the full interview with the 27 year-old USA all-rounder.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Japen Patel, I was born in Gujarat, India and I represent Atlanta Rising Stars Cricket Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
What is the craziest thing you have done while playing cricket?
I would say the craziest thing I did playing cricket was back when I just started playing cricket at age 17. We were playing regional tournament and this happens towards the end of the game. We were on our way to victory and I was fielding in covers. The batsman defended the ball towards me and I went to the ball casually and picked up the ball with my hat and the opposition team was reward 5 runs.
Tell us about your training routines
My workout is split between the gym and cricket activity. I switch between gym and practice every other day. Monday I usually work out my legs and shoulders along with cardio and core. Tuesday I work on my batting drills. Wednesday I work on my back, biceps and core. Thursday I practice my bowling and fielding skills. Friday I work on my chest and biceps. Saturday is my break day where I catch up on rest. Sunday is where I try to apply what I have practiced over the course of the week in league games. Every week I train myself differently (cricket wise). It all depends on the opponent I am going to be playing against.
Who is the toughest player you know?
The toughest player I know is Harmeet Singh (an India U-19 & Rajasthan Royals player). I met Harmeet in Mumbai India while I was training under Coach Monty Desai (Rajasthan Royals). Harmeet and I became very close friends over the years and I learned a lot from him. Harmeet is one of those players who never give up and marches toward his goal, crossing all the obstacle that comes his way. I remember his name was mixed up in the IPL match fixing scandal and he was cut from all his cricketing contracts. However, he kept fighting and believing in himself to earn back the respect he deserves.
What’s your favorite wicket celebrating routine?
After getting a wicket I usually run toward to wicket-keeper in my follow through where I am greeted by other team mates.
Give us your view on the state of USA Cricket, and how to improve the game
I have always been a supporter and believer of USA cricket. However, in past couple of years they have failed to raise their standards and things have gone wrong in the administration. I strongly believe that it’s time for a change for the betterment of cricket In USA. It’s us players who are suffering due to the lack of commitment from the USA administration in developing the sport. I have sacrificed two years of my education and work career to develop myself as a cricketer so that I could help bring USA cricket to the next level. But on the other end USA decided to ignore the commitment I showed towards the game.
Tell us something we don’t know about you
One thing that no one knows about me is the commitment I showed towards USA cricket. I used to work 8-5, and was attending College 6-8 in 2011. I decided to take break so I could go to India to train for the upcoming T20 qualifier in Dubai. I was given the confidence by the selector at the time, and was told that I had a good chance of making the squad. So I decided to quit my job and school and went to India to train with Rajasthan Royals’ coach Monty Desai. I trained under him for three months before I was told to come back to USA (paying my own money for travel, training and accommodation) to attend the selection camp which was mandatory for all the players. I was able to perform really well and again I was given the confidence by the selector that I had a very good chance of making the team. Right after the camp I went to Houston and trained there with Ryan Corns, thinking I was going to be part of the USA T20 squad. One month later, when the team was announced, I was devastated to find out I didn’t make the squad.
If cricket has taught you one thing, what is it?
Cricket has definitely taught me a lot of things. One of the things cricket has taught me is that you should never give up in life, and always pursue your goals and dreams no matter what obstacles come your way.
Can you cook?
Yes, I am actually a very good cook. I am very health conscious so I make my own dinner every night. I love grilling.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I would have to say that I seem to trust people blindly at times.
Who is your favorite cricket commentator?
Do you collect anything?
What’s the best compliment you have ever received from a fellow cricketer?
I have been told by a lot of my colleagues that they respect my dedication and hard work towards the game of cricket.
What is the best cricket souvenir you have?
I was given a Rajasthan Royals cap, batting pads, batting gloves, helmet and T-shirt from Coach Monty Desai for being named the Regional’s MVP for the second time since 2011.
Where is the best place in USA to play cricket?
I would say the best place to play cricket in the USA is Woodley Park in LA.
Who’s your all-time hero outside of cricket?
What’s your favorite shot?
The cover drive.
Would you rather take a five-wicket haul or score a fifty?
Which cricketer in the world would you pay to watch?
Describe you in three words?
Honest, dedicated and hardworking.
Have you got any superstitions?
Yes, while batting I try not to change my bat or batting gloves, unless it’s really necessary.
Are you handy at any other sports?
Yes, football and baseball.