When a 15-year-old Mohammad Shami was taken to a cricket coach for the first time, he impressed with speed but was extremely wayward. Eight years later, Badruddin is happy Shami is reaping rewards by keeping a steady line without compromising on pace.
Shami is another example of
cricket's reach in India and of a rural boy trying to make it big. He is from Sahaspur, a village 22 kilometres from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Son of a farmer, he has a sister and three brothers. All the brothers were aspiring fast bowlers. "It was a strange family since nobody wanted to be a batsman. All four brothers were pace bowlers but Shami was the one who was genuinely quick.
The first time he came to me, I asked him to bowl for around 30 minutes. He didn't cut down on pace for even one ball," Badruddin told HT over the phone from Moradabad, where Shami used to train daily, on Wednesday.
"He never complained about the distance. Bus or train, he would make it a point to come every day. I would normally start nets at 2.30 in the afternoon but he would arrive by 1.30 and start warming up. He was such a dedicated person that he set up his own bowling nets in the backyard."
Since selection in Uttar Pradesh was then based on trials, there weren't enough opportunities for Shami. Badruddin sent him to Bengal in 2007 to learn the ropes through club cricket. He first played for Dalhousie AC and was selected in the Bengal U-22 team while representing Town Club.