Cricket

Explosive batter Ritwik Roy Chowdhury wants to take Bengal cricket to the next level

Priyam Marik
Priyam Marik
Posted on 07 Mar 2022
10:45 AM

Video created by Raghib Hader Ritwik

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Summary
At 26, Ritwik is among the most exciting players in Team Bengal
A sports lover since his childhood, cricket has been his foremost passion since he was 12

It is rare to strike a balance between brute force and natural elegance in the game of cricket. Most batters prefer one over the other, which means that only a select few can harness both.

Ritwik Roy Chowdhury is one such batter.

A Kolkata boy who is a fixture in the Bengal team, Ritwik has come to prominence in recent years for his composure in finishing matches and getting his team over the line.

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In a chat with Edugraph, Ritwik talks about his cricketing influences, his ambitions for Bengal, his commitment to being the best version of himself, and his views as an “evolving feminist”.

Edugraph: Your father is quite a cricket fanatic. Is that how cricket came into your life? At what age did you take it up seriously?

Ritwik Roy Chowdhury: My dad is a sports lover and I’ve been the same from a young age myself. I saw him play a little bit, not too much, but I had always been a very outdoor kid. My mom always encouraged me to play outdoors, which is why I never played much video games. Cricket, football, badminton, table tennis, even squash, were a part of my life, be it at school or home.

I got serious about cricket when I was about 12. But even when I play other sports as hobbies, my competitive nature makes me want to win.

Who were the players you idolised growing up? And who have you learnt the most from?

Ritwik: Everyone back in the day used to switch off the TV when Sachin (Tendulkar) got out (laugh). I was no different. I’m also the biggest fan of Jacques Kallis, not just for his cricketing ability but also because of how he carries himself.

I’ve had the good fortune of interacting at close quarters with Sourav (Ganguly) sir and (VVS) Laxman sir. When they start talking, you just want to let them talk and absorb everything like a sponge.

Outside cricket, it has to be Rafael Nadal. He’s an extraordinary human being. The respect he has for his opponents and the way he carries himself is incredible.

What advice would you give to youngsters who want to consolidate their position in domestic cricket?

Ritwik: Make new mistakes, not the ones I made (laugh). It is important to do well but the majority of us play this game because we love it. When you go out onto the pitch and the ball comes out of your hand perfectly or you hear the sound of the ball hitting the middle of your bat, that’s what you really play for.

We tend to focus too much on the what and how, but end up ignoring the why. As long as you’re convinced why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll do it well. And make it a point to smile through it all.

You had to deal with weight issues during your formative years. Virat Kohli recalls a story of how he looked at himself in the mirror one day and resolved to be fitter and everything changed from that. Did you have a similar moment as a turning point?

Ritwik: I was obese when I was 12. It was very simple for me as to why I had to lose weight. If I had to compete with some of the guys I saw, I had to be fit. Back then also I could whack the ball but I would get tired in half an hour and that wouldn’t do. Hence, the fitness journey — eating better and working harder. I think I adapted well. At that age, your metabolism is also higher, so it’s easier to lose weight.

Tell us about your daily diet and workout routine.

Ritwik: When the season is going on, I focus on match freshness. I train and work out but at a moderate level. I maintain my fitness levels. It is important to be in a good headspace when you play.

I enjoy pushing my body but that’s mostly during the off-season. That’s the time to do some intense training. I get up early in the morning and train so hard that often there’s no option but to get some sleep in the afternoon. Then in the evening I do some practice or just recover in the pool in time for the next day’s training.

I try to train for the same amount of time as I would spend on the field during a match. Apart from that, eating healthy and a good sleep cycle are extremely important.

When it comes to your diet, do you have a go-to cheat meal?

Ritwik: I have a sweet tooth, which I occasionally indulge, taking advantage of my hard work and the decent metabolism I have. As much as I care about my body, I also care about endorphins. I have dark chocolate everyday but that doesn’t count as a cheat meal.

What are your hobbies and interests outside cricket? How do you zone out?

Ritwik: By reading and listening to music and podcasts. I sometimes write as well. I have many friends in different parts of the world, so it’s always nice to catch up with them over a phone call. I have a big family also.

I’m getting better at enjoying my own company with time. Sitting in silence and observing my thoughts is also how I like to zone out.

Your Instagram bio describes you as an “evolving feminist”. Could you elaborate?

Ritwik: Gender equality is the goal of feminism. Gender and income inequality are two of the biggest issues in our country. I’m not a big fan of ideological labels and there are so many of them today. Talk beyond a point is cheap. There are people who’re doing things to make a difference and I admire them. I also try to do my bit, even if it’s trying to tackle conservative attitudes at a dinner table conversation.

Who are some of the authors who have impacted you?

Ritwik: I’ve read my share of sports biographies — Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, AB de Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.

I like reading books by Mike George. His books on self-awareness and personal enlightenment have impacted me a lot.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?

Ritwik: I hope it doesn’t take five years, but I want Bengal cricket to go to the next level. By 2025, I want us to win all the three major domestic competitions — the Ranji Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Once that happens, other things will follow. If the team does well, we don’t really know what is in store for us as individuals.

Career Highlights

  • Ritwik played for the Bengal U-16s and U-19s before making it to the senior team
  • He made his List A debut for Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in October 2019
  • His First-Class debut came a few months later in the Ranji Trophy in January 2020
  • In T20s for Bengal, he has a sensational strike rate of 129.70 in 15 innings
  • In September 2019, he represented the India U-23s for the first time in Lucknow against Bangladesh
Last updated on 07 Mar 2022
10:45 AM
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