Batsman S. Badrinath says it’s this belief that has helped him cope with the ups and downs in his chequered cricketing career
Subramanium Badrinath’s left arm bears the tattoo ‘Guts and Glory’ in Chinese. When he looks at the mirror everyday, he is reminded of these words that travel right to the essence of sport.
“I cannot imagine a life without cricket, it is my passion. I also know to succeed you need courage,” says Badrinath.
The heart of the matter is, Badrinath has the heart for the battle. Put him in a difficult situation and he will fight back. Resilience underlines his cricket.
And he bears the scars of the skirmishes. Despite a raw deal at the hands of the wise men, the fire in Badrinath still burns. Motivation has not deserted him.
Consider this. When V.V.S. Laxman announced his retirement ahead of the Hyderabad Test against New Zealand last year, Badrinath, following strong domestic performances, was roped into the Indian squad as a replacement.
Badrinath failed to get the nod in the two-Test series and was later omitted for the rest of the Indian team’s international season. There was little logic in the sequence of events. If the idea was not to give him an opportunity, why was he picked in the first place?
No giving up
“Playing for India has always been my dream, the reason I started playing. Yes, I have reasons to feel disappointed but will not give up,” he declares.
Badrinath represented India in two Tests, against South Africa at home in 2010. And he did come up with a plucky 56 against a fiery Dale Steyn & Co. on a lively Nagpur track. He is yet to figure in a Test after that series.
The Tamil Nadu batsman travelled to the West Indies in 2011 but did not make the cut in any of the three Tests, despite a few failures in the Indian ranks. And here was someone who journeyed to the Caribbean on the weight of his strong domestic form in the longer version of the game.
Badrinath has changed gears too — he has been intelligent, efficient and a stroke maker for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
Not many know that in his lone Twenty20 international for India, against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 2011, he top-scored with 43. India won the contest and Badrinath was adjudged Man of the Match. He has not played another match for India in this format since.
Badrinath may be 32 but is supremely fit; there is not an extra ounce of flesh on his lithe frame. Brilliant on the field, he gives younger men a run for their money.
Training and fitness
“It is the intensity of physical training and not the amount of time you spend at the gym that matters. I have my personal trainer in Rajamani, it helps,” reveals Badrinath giving us a glimpse into his fitness regimen.
Physical conditioning and immense strength of mind are his allies when Badrinath occupies the crease for long periods in first class cricket. In 111 matches, he has 8238 runs at a whopping 60.13.
“Whether I turn out for my country, my state, my club or my franchise, I want to give my best. This is what keeps me going,” he says.
Badrinath’s CSK team-mate, the exemplary Michael Hussey, has instilled confidence in the man. “He (Hussey) is a wonderful role model,” notes Badrinath.
On the Tamil Nadu Ranji team, he opines, “We have the talent, but need to be more focussed and professional in tough situations against good teams. We need to work on our attitude and mindset.”
A matter of concern
The quality of spin bowling in the State concerns him. “I started playing in the TNCA first division league here in 1998. Almost all the sides had a couple of good spinners. That is not the case now.”
He elaborates, “The spinners are no longer attacking. There are times when they appear too monotonous for me. I do not know whether it is because of the number of limited overs matches they play.”
The presence of two outstation professionals in each side when he was young also lifted standards and helped youngsters according to Badrinath. “These professionals, they were very good cricketers in their respective states, added much to the league. And our youngsters got to bowl and bat against some good cricketers from other states before they started playing first class cricket. I benefited too.”
Among the young spinners, Badrinath feels Malolan Rangarajan and Aushik Srinivas could be developed.
As the new season beckons, Badrinath will continue to rely on guts to seek glory for state and country.