Going Places: Indias Small Town Cricket Heroes
You cant keep a small-town cricketer from going places. Beating the odds gives them a fire in the belly and the stomach for a good fight. Growing up in a family of wood-cutters helped Azamgarhs Kamran Khan develop the shoulders to bowl at 140 kmph and impress Shane Warne.
Ashok Dinda, son of a farmer in East Midnapore, borrowed Rs 30 every day from his brothers to reach his coaching centre in Kolkata every morning.
Iqbal Abdullah, also from Azamgarh, slept in godowns before making it big in the Indian Premier League in Mumbai. And Harbhajan Singh, son of a ball-bearings trader in Jalandhar, didnt balk from borrowing a ladies cycle and turning up at the nets to pursue his passion for the gentlemans game.
The loneliness of a long distance cricketers commute did not bother left arm spinner Sunil Joshi, who travelled 120 kilometres everyday from Gadag to Hubli in Karnataka and back to attend school after practice.
Once hes boarded the gravy train, the small town cricketers transformation is striking. The pride that Abdullah takes in buying my own house in Mumbai is palpable. From riding his BSA bicycle in Bangalore, cantankerous quickie Sreesanth today owns a fleet of cars that includes a Beemer of the car kind. And Munaf Patel, from Ikhar in Gujarat, who once hid in a cotton field to avoid playing a match, doesnt think twice before giving Rs 70,000 to a needy person.
Six of the 11 players representing India in the World Cup come from small towns. The book manages to capture their combativeness and street cred.