When it comes to cricket and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, this priest cannot resist.
Inspired by the captain, Fr Tom John, 54, a Franciscan Catholic priest who runs a school in left-wing extremism-hit Simdega’s Bano block, began training tribal children to play cricket.
With Dhoni announcing retirement from Test cricket and likely to be playing his last World Cup, he could not resist going to Australia. Travelling miles and making it to all the matches supporting India and Dhoni across the seven seas, Fr Tom has become a popular figure among Indian supporters.
Much of it he attributes to the T-Shirt he wears to the matches carrying a photograph imprint of him and Dhoni taken during their meeting in Ranchi in 2011.
“Before leaving for Australia, I got the photograph imprinted on at least 350 T-Shirts in Bangalore. While I have secured around seven-eight of them for my personal consumption, the rest have almost been exhausted. People are paying me to buy them,” the priest told HT over phone.
It was a 15-minute meeting with Dhoni in 2011 that changed Fr Tom’s world. “He is so down-to-earth and simple.” How did he manage funds for the trip? “I have relatives in Australia. They have been asking me to visit Australia,” he said.
With India reaching the quarter finals, Fr Tom is confident that India will retain the World Cup. Did he meet Dhoni? “Though there were close rendezvous and we waved hands at each other, I did not go to meet him because I do not want to disturb him.”