When Shane Warne made his Test debut against India in Sydney in the early ’90s, an Indian earned his maiden Test cap in the same match. While Warne went on to play more than 15 years of international cricket, this medium pace bowler – Subroto Banerjee – could never play a Test for India again.
Instead of trying to persuade the national selectors for a recall, Banerjee shifted permanently to Sydney, Australia, in 1994.
More than a decade later, Banerjee, who completed a Level III coaching course in the meantime, found himself taking a somewhat new job – as the bowling coach for the Mumbai IPL team.
“I haven’t played T20 but I’ve seen enough of it,” Banerjee said at the Wankhede stadium on Friday. “I have an idea how it is to bowl in this format. Even in Australia, I have seen quite a bit of it.”
On Friday the Mumbai players, sans captain Sachin Tendulkar and coach Lalchand Rajput, who were in Bangalore for the grand opening ceremony, slugged it out for three hours at the Wankhede in their first practice session under the floodlights.
Banerjee, who admitted that he got the job due to “Sachin’s suggestion to Reliance”, has his task cut out. One, he has less than a week to tune up the bowlers. Two, all the domestic bowlers are unknown quantities for him.
“They are very good, absolutely brilliant. They have been improving every day,” he said. “ (Dhaval) Kulkarni is pretty good. He is quick.”
But more than “finetuning their action and guiding them on how to bowl in T20”, what Banerjee is most delighted about is something that’s not about cricket.
“When Reliance approached me after Sachin’s suggestion to them, I was very excited,” Banerjee, speaking in an Australian – or Awstralian – accent, said. “I was very thrilled to come back to India again. And it’s a good thing for me and a big challenge.”
Sunday’s match between Mumbai and Bangalore would hint whether Banerjee has lived up to the challenge.