If one is searching for a definite answer to how to become a millionaire, the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction would probably figure prominently.
Every auction has thrown up little-known domestic cricketers who rake in the moolah, much to the surprise of everyone. On Monday, it was the turn of Tamil Nadu left-arm pacer T Natarajan.
From a base price of Rs 10 lakh, the 25-year-old ended up as the highest paid Indian uncapped player in the auction when Kings XI Punjab snapped him up for Rs 3 crore after a bidding war.
By the time his name came up for the auction, Natarajan had the jitters. A couple of minutes later, he went numb.
“I am not thinking of the money right now. I never imagined getting so much money. I don’t even know how many zeroes are there in three crore,” Natarajan, 25, who is just nine first-class matches and five T20 matches old, chuckled during a chat with Hindustan Times. “I am just thrilled to be part of the IPL, which will help me develop my bowling.”
Natarajan’s father is a daily wager in the power loom sector, while his mother runs a roadside chicken and snacks shop in their hometown Salem. Natarajan is the eldest of five siblings and he takes the responsibility to meet their expenses from his cricket match fees. One of his sisters is married. Two other sisters and a brother are in college.
Natarajan plans to use the IPL money for building a house and funding the higher studies of his siblings.
“My first priority is to build a decent house. My sisters want to study further, one wants to do engineering and other wants to be a Chartered Accountant. This money will come in handy,” said Natarajan.
South Indian spinster T Natarajan will feature in our squad this season. Bought for 3 Cr. Welcome to the Pride boy! pic.twitter.com/VLqGtalBhO— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) February 20, 2017
And how much will he keep for himself? “I will keep a little for my basic needs,” he said.
Till he was 20, Natarajan only played tennis-ball cricket. It was only after a well-wisher from his village, A Jayaprakash, took the left-arm medium pacer to Chennai for formal training in cricket that his game developed. His ability to bowl yorkers at will made everyone sit up and take note of.
Natarajan credited playing tennis ball cricket for his accurate yorkers. “I played a lot of tennis ball cricket and you had to bowl a lot of yorkers to contain the batsmen,” he said.
From playing fourth division cricket in 2010-11, he steadily rose. In 2015-16, the first big break arrived with a first-class debut for Tamil Nadu. The developments thereafter stunned him. He was reported for suspect action and was sent back to modify it. He took the help of R Ashwin’s coach, Sunil Subramaniam, the former Tamil Nadu left-arm spinner, to rectify his action.
But the Tamil Nadu Premier League proved godsend. Live coverage of the T20 tournament and his accuracy with yorkers helped build his reputation. By this Ranji Trophy season, Natarajan had earned a regular spot in the Tamil Nadu team.