"I am getting more phone calls after being dropped, feeling like a star," said Ranadeb Bose, one of the five players to have been omitted from the Kolkata squad for their last six round-robin matches.
Sarcasm apart, it's indeed been a bitter pill for Bose and Sourasish Lahiri, senior members of the Bengal team. Being told that they are no longer needed, hurts.
“Every player feels disappointed when dropped. It's no different with us, but we understand why we've been dropped and respect the decision,” said Bose.
The others told to go home with the assurance of pay as promised are Yashpal Singh, Cheteshwar Pujara and local under-19 player Rohan Banerjee. This was the chance for them to interact with some of the biggest names in world cricket but instead what they fondly remember of their association with the team is Shah Rukh Khan.
“It was amazing to see how humble a man of such a huge stature can be. The way he embraced a nobody like me and made me feel comfortable in the company of big names was unbelievable,” recalled Lahiri, still awestruck.
“It wouldn't have been possible to know that a superstar can be so down to earth had I not met him," said Bose. "Being dropped will rankle for a while but the memories of meeting him will stay. I'm his fan and partying with him after one of the matches was special."
Cricket-wise, they have contrasting feedbacks. "You don't have to be in the XI to notice how different things are when the top guys go about their job. The support staff are extremely methodical and during practice, everyone knows what to do and when. Nobody is sitting idle at any point of time. It would've felt better had I played, but if I put in practice what I've learnt, I'll be a better cricketer," said Lahiri.
Bose felt there wasn't anything strikingly significant on the learning front because he was never part of the squad that travelled.
"Make no mistake that interacting with some of the best players was very helpful, as was working with a top trainer like Adrian le Roux. That apart, in terms of cricket I haven't gained much because I wasn't in the scheme of things as far as playing was concerned."
For the insiders-turned-outsiders of the Kolkata team, Shah Rukh Khan remains the highlight although they are not the King's men anymore.