Wearing two hats, that of a minister and of a professional cricketer, is not a problem for former India cricketer Manoj Tiwary.
The inclusion of Tiwary among 39 Bengal probables for the forthcoming domestic season was a surprise for many. But the 35-year-old never had any confusion about the challenging decision he took a few months ago.
“When Didi (West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) asked me to join politics, I could not say no. When I told her that I wanted to play and did not want to end my career abruptly, she said, ‘You can play as long as you can,’ ’’ Tiwary, a Trinamool Congress MLA from Shibpur, told Sportstar on Tuesday.
For Tiwary, who is West Bengal’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, it’s about managing the two jobs well. “I have a very good team which knows how to handle different situations. The back-up plan was always there and I was confident that managing the two things would not be difficult,” said Tiwary.
“Doubters will always doubt. My job is to work on my fitness and skill set. By God’s grace, I have been contributing to the team with my batting, bowling and fielding for the last 18 years.”
Tiwary said his position in the government would not affect his relationship with fellow players in the Bengal side. “I am not going to present myself as a minister. I will gel with other players like a friend. And they can crack jokes on me.”
Tiwary reiterated his long-time aim – seeing Bengal as the Ranji champion again. “A lot of investment has been made on younger players in the last five-seven years. Our bowling has become strong. The year before last we reached the final. We want to achieve that (title) as a team,” said Tiwary.