The forlorn figure of V.R.V. Singh, walking around the boundary rope of the stadium in Mohali, presented the stark reality of life. One who promised a lot as a youngster, this Punjab fast bowler is today a forgotten man. Not even friends enquire whether he is still bowling.

A back injury needed a surgery in 2010.

“I got it done on my own in Sydney,” says VRV.

He has been in oblivion since. True, he played a few Twenty20 matches early this year, and took some wickets too. But he was far from being fit. When he toiled to be ready for four-day cricket, his body broke down again.

“The workload was too much and I had to rest instead of bowling. There is no one to guide me,” he says, the anguish on his face not tough to read.

At 27, VRV — who has played five Tests and two ODIs — has some cricket left in him. It has been 18 months and he has “no clue or hopes of a comeback”.

“At least for Punjab,” he says.

He has not found one person to guide him through these testing times — this despite the fact that the Board’s pace bowling academy happens to be in Mohali.

The Balaji case study

The Punjab Cricket Association has provided him the support; just as the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association which looked after L. Balaji when he suffered a near-crippling back injury in 2006. And Balaji returned strongly in a year’s time to play competitive cricket with unstinted guidance from then state coach W.V. Raman.

Raman was no medicine man, but he saw to it that Balaji’s rehab process was monitored strictly. “We worked in the technical side like restructuring the run up and other alignments in his bowling action. There was no compromise on his rehab and we went step by step,” recalls Raman.

Raman told Balaji that he ought to target the 2009 tour of New Zealand, and the bowler made it.

“It just happened. Maybe, my word of encouragement for him worked. He took 50-odd first-class cricket wickets in the comeback season,” says Raman.

When VRV made a request, Raman promptly offered to help. “It will depend on who helps VRV now, and who is to look after him. His injury is not related to his action. He needs a strong rehab support,” says Raman

“I know what happens to a youngster when he suffers an injury. Balaji went through a lot physically and emotionally but he got used to it because of the support he got. VRV needs precisely that. He needs a dedicated approach. Back stress can be crippling.”

VRV is going through a tough phase.

“The toughest of my life! When I was playing for India I was looked after. Now I am on my own. I don’t know where to go. It is very frustrating, really. I trained well, but without results,” he says.

The National Cricket Academy is out of bounds for him. Only contracted players get medical support at the NCA. VRV does not belong to that category. A fast bowler once, he could not even sit, let alone walking, at one stage.

He walks around now, even if only around the boundary rope, hoping for some help from a “kind quarter.”

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