Refusing to succumb to the lure of lucre that is Indian Cricket League, former Test opener Aakash Chopra is doing everything to claw his way back to the Indian team, even if that means playing for a police team somewhere in England.
Turning his back on a lucrative ICL offer, Aakash, who has shifted base to Stoke, some 45 miles north of Birmingham, is lapping up whatever cricket is on offer, and wherever.
"I was playing for Midlands police team, yes a police team against the Worcestershire county cricket club. It was a mix of first and second team players and I scored 88 not out," he said from Stoke.
Aakash has immersed himself in cricket and has been playing for the MCC, Lashings club -- cricket's answer to basketball's Harlem Globetrotters -- besides Hem Heath Cricket Club.
For MCC, he played a couple of games and got a century as well against Sri Lanka A at Arundel.
"I was supposed to play another game for MCC against Ireland in Dublin but didn't get the visa," he said.
The opener is scoring loads of runs for his club in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire leagues where he is the leading run-getter. Apart from him, retired New Zealander Nathan Astle and Pakistani pacer Shabbir Ahmed also play in the league.
Many of his contemporaries may have given up their comeback bid to jump on the ICL bandwagon but Aakash still harbours the dream of a Team India comeback and says taking the ICL plunge would have nipped such prospect in the bud.
"I've been approached by the ICL but that was a few weeks ago and I have politely declined the offer. The reason is that I want and hope to play for India and signing for ICL would've closed that door for me," Aakash reasoned.
He that insists his comeback prospects are bright enough.
"I think that I have a very good chance of making it back in to the side but then, making a comeback takes a lot more than just scoring runs. It depends a lot on the circumstances and the available places. But I'm focusing on getting runs consistently so that as and when the opportunity comes, I'm knocking on the doors."
Aakash, who proved the perfect foil for Virender Sehwag's belligerence and gave India many a good starts in the historic 2003-04 Australia tour, thinks he has hit the right path with runs flowing from his bat.
"I've had a decent season back home -- finished fifth in the highest run-getter list -- and have done well in England during the summer. I've scored a couple of centuries and a fifty in as many matches I played for Lashings."
As he travels to nooks and corners of that part of the world just to keep himself in shape and touch, Aakash has an eye on South Africa A's tour of India in September.
"The reason for playing in England is a combination of a few things. One, there's no cricket in India during the summer and then the monsoon. Secondly, these months provide ideal preparation for the upcoming season. I've played as many games as I could in England this summer hoping to start the season strongly back home."
"The season is starting early this time with South Africa A coming to India in September, so I've tried to stay in decent touch in case I get picked."