A chat with Jamaican cricketer Abhijai Mansingh

Sun, Jun 9, '19

by KRISSANIA YOUNG

interviews

Abhijai Mansingh is a 22-year-old Jamaican cricketer who bats right-handed and bowls leg break. Mansingh was born into a cricketing family and followed suit at a tender age; he went on to lead Campion College to the unthinkable--bring home the Grace Shield, prior to representing Jamaica at the Regional U-19 Championships in 2015, which was followed by a successful stint at the Murdoch University Melville Cricket Club in Australia. The struggles Abhijai has encountered while pursuing his dream has caused him, like many others, to question the structure of Jamaica Cricket. On May 23, I sat down (we were actually standing) with a very pleasant Abhijai Mansingh. Here's what we discussed:

How did you get started with cricket?

Basically, my family was into cricket; my grandfather, my father (Dr. Akshai Mansingh). So, ever since I could walk I started playing. Just around the house. And then when I started school, I started for my school. I played from grade one and never stopped since then.

Tell me more about captaining Campion College to the Grace Shield back in 2015.

Yes, that was… You always want to aim to win a trophy, but I never really thought it would happen. And I think that probably helped us in winning it, because we didn't have any pressure. We just played cricket and that made us win.

But how did it feel to do that for Campion? (It was the school's first schoolboy trophy in over 26 years).

Well, it's known that Campion isn't really a cricketing school or a sports school. So, it was an amazing feeling. And most people that actually come to play cricket at Campion; they're not really fully serious about it. They are mainly interested in academics. So, to make everyone feel that we can win this title--and that we actually did it--was amazing. I think it was good for the school, as well, because they started believing that they could achieve in sports, as well.

Was it a bit more special that you were captain?

Yes, I mean, it's always nice to captain a team to a title. I think it was special that I did captain the team. It was also special that my brother played on the same team and a few of my best friends. So, that made it even more special.

You were a member of the Jamaican U-19 team in 2015. What do you remember of that?

We got to the final that year. The year before, we just missed out on the 50-over final. And then, that year, we got to the final and lost to Guyana--who had a few IPL players in that team now... three IPL players in that team so. We had Chino (Oshane Thomas), they had Hetmyer, Rutherford, Keemo Paul. But it was a good game. I remember the game clearly; it was at Manchester. Good crowd. But, we unfortunately lost that tournament.

How did you end up playing in Australia?

After I finished high school I wanted to further play some cricket. So, I went on the internet to see where I could get an opportunity and there was a club in Perth that was looking for overseas players. So, I got in contact with them and they got me over there. I played a season there--which was the biggest learning experience I've ever had. 

(Mansingh received an Associate award from the Murdoch University Melville Cricket Club during his time there in 2015 for his batting average of 41.17 which ranked him third.)

You were a member of the eventual champions of the 2019 Senior Cup--Melbourne. 

That was my first Senior Cup with Melbourne. It was a young team. We had a lot of pressure because we'd lost the two finals before, so everyone was looking at us.

Did you feel the pressure just coming into the team?

Yes, I was at Kingston Cricket Club before. Everyone was talking about it, "we lost two finals, we have to win this one". There was a bit of pressure, but we played good cricket. We stuck to our plans, every match, and we were well led by Javelle Glenn (Melbourne captain). It all panned out in the end.

Why did you make the switch from Kingston?

Kingston was my boyhood club. I've been at Kingston since I was ten and I think I needed a change. Mainly [for] more opportunities and I think I also needed a little kick up my backside and to play with a few more experienced players. As well as a better structure, in terms of training and just how everything is set. So, I think it was a good move for me. I mean, it's always sad to leave your boyhood club, but it was a decision I had to make.

Do you have hopes of being picked up for the upcoming Super League season?

Well, I was picked in the last two years. I didn't really get a chance to play as much, unfortunately. But I'm looking to hopefully play as many games as possible. I'm pushing for a [Jamaica] Scorpions game. So, I definitely am looking to try and excel in that franchise competition and look for a Scorpions game.

I didn't see your name  in the draft for the CPL.

I am very realistic about my chances, I wasn't going to get picked (laughs) so might as well go and play more cricket... other versions that suit me. I'm going to Barbados for the 3-day club competition.

What do you make of the path to the senior team in Jamaica? 

From junior to senior is probably the hardest time of your career. Especially the Caribbean and in Jamaica, I guess. There is no real... you have to be disciplined and stay focused. Because, a lot of people I've played with, they've stopped playing. A lot of my U-19 teammates, they've stopped playing. No structure; I think it's a bit better now that they're offering Developmental Contracts, but I think that cricket in Jamaica really needs to help cricketers from 19 to 20, because we're losing too many good players at that age. I think the university setting is also a good setting in helping people bridge that cap, but I think Jamaica Cricket needs to do more.

A question for Millennials: Test, 50-over or t20?

I'm a Test lover. I think all three formats have their place in cricket, but we shouldn't overlook the importance of Test cricket; it is the purest form and the Greats are judged based off of how well they do in Test cricket.

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