Three young cricketers with fascinating names show promise with consistent performances

Many things unite these three youngsters — M. Shahrukh Khan, M.S. Washington Sundar, and Daryl S. Ferrario. Apart from the obvious common strand that they are gifted young cricketers, each of their names has a fascinating origin. But, more on that later.

The trio, while still in school, has asserted its presence on Chennai’s cricketing scene through consistent performances. Shahrukh, however, wouldn’t bear the ‘schoolboy’ tag anymore. His Class XII results have arrived and Shahrukh’s quite content with the tally of 65 per cent. Until he turned 11, when cricket became an obsessive pursuit, swimming was his dominant passion. His father, Masood Khan, had played in Chennai’s second division league and, naturally, Shahrukh gravitated towards the sport. Receiving his first lessons at the SDAT Academy and Kedar CA, he went on to represent Tamil Nadu in age-group cricket. By the time Shahrukh was 13, he had begun playing league cricket. In 2011-12, he signed up with UFCC (T. Nagar) in the first division and then played for Indian Bank the following season. “This season I am back at UFCC. My immediate goal is to play the under-19 World Cup,” says Shahrukh, who will turn 18 on May 27. Primarily a batsman who also bowls off-spin, Shahrukh feels secure as a “batting all-rounder”. His younger brother, Akram Khan, a cricketer himself, plays in the fourth division. Shahrukh, who finished his schooling from St. Bede’s, has secured admission to Guru Nanak College. He owes his progress to, besides his parents, personal coach L. Venkatanarayanan, trainer Azhariah Prabhakar, S. Sharath, and R.I. Palani.

Shahrukh also confirms he’s named after the celebrated filmstar. “My mother’s cousins were huge fans and they practically forced my parents to name me after him,” he laughs.

Like Shahrukh, Washington too comes from a cricketing background: his father, Sundar, and sister, M.S. Shailaja, have played the sport while cousin, S. Avaikkarasan, turns out for India Pistons. Washington, now 13, first lifted a cricket bat when he was “four or five”. With his father as coach, the left-handed batsman and off-spinner graduated to league cricket when he was barely 10. “I was nervous initially but I got used to it,” says Washington. Last season, he made his maiden appearance in the first division for Globe Trotters. “They don’t treat me like a kid there. M. Senthilnathan sir has been very supportive, as also Sridharan Sriram, Sunil Sam, and Y. Venugopal Rao.”

On juggling academics with cricket, he wants to accord equal importance to both. “My parents and my school have been very encouraging,” says the St. Bede’s student, who’s stepping into Class X. Washington is presently at the under-16 camp in the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore, after finishing as the “leading run-scorer for the State”. He’s one of only two cricketers from Tamil Nadu to feature in the 40-day camp. Named after his father’s mentor, Washington’s long-term goal is to earn the India cap.

Daryl, in contrast to Washington and Shahrukh, doesn’t hail from a sporting family. His parents named him after the South African cricketer, Daryll Cullinan (his mother’s favourite), and the Ferrari car (his father, who worked in Italy, was fond of it). When he was in Class II, he began training at the J.S. Rao Academy and later at CSSF. The 15-year-old, then, had a stint with Friends XI in the fifth division, before rising up the ladder. This season, he’s set to play for Alwarpet in the first division. The Don Bosco student, who’s completed Class IX, has been a prolific batsman. “Patience’s my biggest strength,” he says. Daryl has been picked for the Coca Cola under-16 all-India schools team and will leave for Sri Lanka later this month to take part in a series of matches.

A hard grind awaits each of these three cricketers but, armed with a deep love for the game, they seem to be on the right track.