A class of his own

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Sports Vijay Kumar has come up in life the hard way and is willing to work harder to scale greater heights

Andhra Ranji player P. Vijaya Kumar with Aussie legend Adam Gilchrist and South African bastsman Gibbs
Andhra Ranji player P. Vijaya Kumar with Aussie legend Adam Gilchrist and South African bastsman Gibbs

From lorry cleaner to manual labourer to a first class cricketer - David Paidikalva Vijay Kumar has come a long way. The gawky medium pacer who began learning the nuances of fast bowling with a “cloth ball’ on the labyrinth lanes of his village in Kadapa district, stormed into the world of cricket by earning a slot in the Andhra Ranji team in the 2006-2007 season.

Vijay, in a short time went became an important cog in the wheel of Andhra attack and the quickie finished the season with an impressive 28 wickets, including a six-scalp show against Himachal Pradesh.

His straight run-up and willingness to hit the deck intensely has earned him admirers even in the rival camps. “We rate him as someone above Shahabuddin,” Kerala coach and former India International Sujith Somasundar told this correspondent on the sidelines of Andhra-Kerala Ranji match at Kapada recently.

“I have been watching his progress right from his debut match against Baroda in 2006. Vijay is hard-working and has a natural athletic body and he generates good amount of speed. He can bowl consistently at 130 kilometres per hour. He is also deft at bowling long spells,” said NCA level-3 coach Ch. Krishna Rao.

The 26-year-old fast bowler gradually transformed into a championbowler and his stint at MRF Pace Academy under the watchful eyes of Aussie legend Dennis Lillie, T. A Sekhar and Srinath helped him prepare for bigger challenges. Vijay also went on to represent South Zone in the Duleep Trophy against Central Zone and was in the India ‘A’ camp at Bangalore.

However, the invention of Indian Premier League (IPL) changed the life of this cricketer from lower strata of the society and the shy Vijay Kumar shot into the limelight by playing three seasons for Deccan Chargers representing Andhra region. He even travelled with the team to South Africa when IPL was shifted out of India.

“IPL taught me not only discipline but added a new perspective to my life. I was able to watch star players like Adam Gilchrist, Paul Harris and Andrew Symonds perform and also interacted with them,” said Vijay, while playing against Kerala at the YS Raja Reddy ACA stadium at Kadapa.

With the decent income he made by playing in the IPL he constructed a house in five cents of land and gave a comfortable life to his parents. “My father was a coolie (a manual labour), and mother a vegetable vendor. Thanks to cricket, especially the IPL, I am able to give them a respectable life,” says Vijay with a glint of pride in his eyes.

The next few days may put extra pressure on Vijay as he will be leading the Andhra pace attack with K. S. Shahabuddin, who is already 34 years and understandably is on the wane. “The hall mark of Vijay is his willingness to bowl longer spells. He is always willing to walk that extra mile for the team’s sake,” says Andhra Ranji manager Koka Ramesh.

Currently Vijay is working towards a single agenda – to excel in all formats of cricket. His next major assignment would be to perform for Andhra in the Subbaiah Pillai South Zone one-day tournament that begins at Goa in February.

Incidentally, Vijay Kumar has played 37 first class matches and has taken 122 wickets that include five five-wicket and a 10-wicket haul.

J.R. Shridharan




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