Rounak Waghela was one of the busiest, if not the busiest, cricketers in the Delhi circuit in 2022-23 season. The 15-year-old left-arm spin bowling all-rounder represented DDCA’s U-16, U-19 and U-25 teams in BCCI-affiliated tournaments and was part of the Ranji Trophy camp towards the fag end of their campaign too.
On July 6, the youngster received match fees from the BCCI for the various fixtures he played during the busy season. Before spending a penny on himself, Rounak asked his father to give a part of it to his coach for development of the academy he trains at.
From the “around Rs 7 lakh” received, Rounak and his father Devaram, who is a tuition teacher, prepared a cheque of Rs 1,25,000 and went straight to the Venkateshwar Cricket Academy in Dwarka. Coach Devdutt was training the other boys when Devaram presented him the cheque and urged the boys, who go on to play for the state, to keep contributing for the development of the academy.
“Sir ne mere liye bahut kiya hai, wo match fees bhi nahi lete and tournament fees wagera kuch nahi lete, sab apni pocket se karte hai (Devdutt sir has done a lot for me and he doesn’t take any fee from me). I wanted to do something for the academy, to improve the facilities for everyone. Our sir spends a lot of effort on us, so it’s our duty to give it back to him,” says Rounak in a chat with News18 CricketNext.
Rounak is just 15 but talks with a lot of maturity. And why wouldn’t he? The left-hander saw all levels of cricket from close quarters in less than three months last year and the recent NCA experience has only improved his game and mindset.
“Last year was really good. It helped me a lot and helped me improve a lot. I was changing teams – from U-16 to U-19 to U-25 – but I was made to feel comfortable wherever I went. I easily gelled into whichever age-group I played, and that helped he perform too. Even during the Ranji Trophy camp towards the end, it was a great learning experience and seniors supported me a lot too,” says Rounak.
The spinning all-rounder had useful contributions, with bat and ball, across age groups. He picked 16 wickets, scored 162 runs (including a hundred) for DDCA U-16 in three games, took 21 wickets in 5 matches and scored 136 runs in seven innings for Delhi U-19 and then finished the season with 10 wickets for DDCA U-25 in two games. The consistent season saw him make it to the NCA camp for U-16 age group.
“I had a great time at the NCA. Working with quality coaches, playing cricket with the best players from the country – it was a great experience. I really enjoyed my time there and definitely returned an improved cricketer,” says Rounak.
Rounak, who resides in West Delhi, is getting noticed in the Delhi circuit and those who have seen the youngster play, rate him very highly. Playing all age groups for Delhi in a single year is no ordinary feat and the men who matter in the DDCA corridors were very impressed with what they saw.
“We had no doubts in his ability. He is a quality cricketer who has done well in all age groups. Even in the Ranji Trophy nets, he was bowling well. And what he did after getting the match fees speaks volume about the big heart he possesses. Cricket is a game played with a big heart and he certainly has one,” says DDCA joint secretary Rajan Manchanda.
DDCA was keeping an eye on Rounak right from the trial matches for the junior age groups last year and with every outing they were assured about the all-rounder’s abilities and temperament to perform.
“Right from the trial matches for the last season, he looked good and played with a lot of maturity. There is no doubt he will bring laurels to Delhi cricket in future,” adds Manchanda.
Former India cricketer Gursharan Singh, who was part of the DDCA Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) last year and also performed selection duties for the senior team towards the end of the season, also felt Rounak had the spark to do well at the highest level.
“He is an exceptional player and don’t forget he is just 15 and has so much cricket ahead of him. Credit should be given where it’s due and I must credit the DDCA for looking after him and making him play U-19 before U-16. If all stays on course, he should play the next level – the senior age groups very soon. Still early days but if groomed properly, he has spark to do really well at the highest level,” Singh had said last year.