By Johnnel Eugene
Being with the Punjab Kings for me felt like making my International debut. My heart was racing and I was shaking with nervousness and excitement when I first arrived at the team hotel, but I was warmly welcomed by the team management. I was invited to sit at dinner with Head Coach Anil Kumble who spoke to me very modestly and asked me about myself. The other players and team staff too received me with open arms, I was really pleased by the manner in which I was welcomed by those International athletes.
During our training sessions, the energy was totally different. Everyone was pumped and eager to get going at each training session. This made me realise how serious the players were about their game. Bowling to these International stars, it was extremely fun and difficult in the sense where I would take some wickets but also get hit all around the ground for boundaries. Being a net bowler for PBKS was a challenge for me, but it was a very good experience. With this experience, it has boosted my confidence when bowling to my teams and athletes at the international level. I can now say that I have bowled against the best players in the world.
In addition, my fielding skills broadened while participating in the team drills. I also learnt how effectively and efficiently I could better myself in the field thanks to the world’s best fielder Jonty Rhodes. It was very intense with Jonty while fielding but what stood out was that it was mostly fun and competitive.
Off the field the Punjab Kings cricketers and I had a great time interacting, playing and also at the gym. One moment that I will never forget was spending my 22nd birthday with the franchise. I was given a taste of the Punjabi culture when celebrating, (a body full of cake). I was also requested to do a round of Caribbean music to the guys during karaoke in which I sang a Bob Marley song. I was also able to experience a live IPL game which I have always seen on television. It was breathtaking, watching the facilities and the teams. One day I hope I can get to that level too.
All in all it was a great experience for me as I look to develop my cricket career. I have gained friends and knowledge while being a part of the Punjab Kings training sessions. I am truly grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime that will propel my cricket career further.