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In an era when selectors generally look to promote young blood, the MCA have gone down a drastically different path. With skipper Ajit Agarkar injured, the selectors went for an extra spinner instead of a like-for-like pace replacement.
Tambe says it will take him some time to get to grips with the news. “I have been playing for the last 25 years and have never once been part of any Mumbai team,” he says. “The news is yet to sink in. I know people might say I’m 40-plus but my enthusiasm is still of a 20-year-old boy.”
At an age when most cricketers chalk out their post-retirement plans, Tambe is now eying his debut. He will be the senior-most member of the team boarding the flight to Visakhapatnam, where Mumbai will look to grab their second domestic title of the season.
Tambe’s inclusion came about after consistent performances in club cricket. He was man of the series in a local tournament last season and was most famously involved in a matchwinning last-wicket partnership for DY Patil, adding 143 with Kshemal Waingankar against Tata Sports Club in the Times Shield A division.
“I always asked where my destiny had been hiding for such a long time. I think god kept this day for me. Even if I don’t play, I can tell my children that I was selected for Mumbai once,” he says.
It was just a decade ago when Tambe was eyeing a place in the Ranji Trophy squad but couldn’t make it since Mumbai already had an established leg spinner in Sairaj Bahutule. As the years went by his hopes kept fading. In 2004, Orient Shipping, where Tambe was employed, stopped their cricketing activities, forcing him to move to DY Patil with Abey Kuruvilla. He rattles off the big names he has played with in his years of maidan cricket. “You name them and I have played with them in local games,” he says.
Tambe is confident he will get selected in Mumbai’s first eleven in the Vijay Hazare matches.
“If I’m taking wickets and scoring runs then I don’t see any reason for not being picked. There is no problem with my fitness either. Now, I’m hoping that a day will come when I will get a Ranji call,” he says with a smile.