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Rejected by Punjab, Gurdaspur cricketer selected for Canadian national team


The irony is unmistakable. A Gurdaspur cricketer, who had to face continuous rejection by officials managing the Punjab cricket, has been selected in the national team of Canada.

The Canadian cricket squad would take part in the World Cup qualifying tournament to be held in Bermuda from September 30.

This comes as a shocker to many in the state’s cricketing fraternity. They are finding it hard to believe that all-rounder Dilpreet Singh Bajwa (22) made it to the team of another country after his claims were rather unfairly dismissed by his own state and country.

This, many ex-cricketers say, tells the complete story of cricket and cricketers in Punjab where players belonging to minor districts are rarely rewarded, no matter how good they may be.

Nobody can vouch for this better than Bajwa. In Punjab, districts are categorised into main and minor districts. Gurdaspur is in the minor districts category.

Bajwa is a disciple of coach Rakesh Marshal. He used to practice at the Government College grounds where Marshal runs an academy. Bajwa did his schooling from Guru Arjun Dev Senior Secondary School, Dhariwal.

His father Harpreet Singh used to work in the Agriculture Department while his mother Harleen Kaur was a government teacher. Keeping in mind the fact that their son was getting a raw deal from the selectors, his parents decided to immigrate to Canada in 2020.

In just three years, Bajwa, a batting all-rounder, impressed all and sundry in the Canadian domestic tournament called Global T20 tournament. He played for Montreal Tigers and after coming up with some dazzling scores, the selectors decided to include him in the national team.

International cricketers like Chris Gayle, Tim Southee, Carlos Brathwaite and James Neesham regularly take part in the tournament. Gayle is particularly fond of Bajwa. When the sea becomes choppy, the Caribbean batter acts as a beacon for the boy from Gurdaspur.

Just before the family moved to Toronto bag and baggage, Dilpreet was a man who had been brought to his knees by a flawed cricketing system. He was so dejected that a cricket kit was the last thing he wanted to see. Then stepped in coach Marshal and his parents who impressed upon him that he was full of talent and should not get disconsolate.

“We told him that the greatest trap in life was not success, power or popularity but self-rejection. Slowly, he came out of his self-imposed hibernation but was never the same cricketer again. That was the time when his parents made the decision to leave India,” said Marshal.

Weeks before he left for foreign shores, he had scored a swashbuckling 130 against Patiala in an under-19 match. His selection in the state under-19 team was a foregone conclusion. However, for reasons best known to the selectors, he was sidelined. He still feels the pain of this rejection. Dilpreet has also given good performances in the Punjab state Inter-District Katoch Shield Tournament. The Punjab Ranji Trophy team is selected on the basis of this tournament.

Once in Canada, Montreal Tigers, a club team, took him under its wings. A high-quality exhibition of stroke play in the Global T20 league made the national selectors look up. Subsequently, he was named in the Canadian squad. He has risen like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes. Back home in India, the selectors in Punjab were stunned beyond disbelief. The consensus among them was how could a batsman, who was sidelined by them, find a place in the national team of a foreign country?

He is looking forward to playing the opening match of the world cup qualifiers against Bermdua on September 30.

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