He wanted to sell fruits. “But how would I weigh them,” was an innocent query that floored his father, Kiranpal Singh, a strict policeman. He wanted to be a soldier, farmer, teacher, until one day he spotted a plastic bat and ball at a fair at Nauchandi.
He grabbed the toys and that became his father’s first memory of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s love for cricket. His family and friends bask in the wily seamer’s glory.
Bhuvneshwar is Meerut’s pride now. Every citizen wants time with him. Invitations to attend functions as chief guest keep pouring in. “Not possible to accept all,” he smiles. The India all-rounder has finished his morning training stint and settled with his long-time friend and Uttar Pradesh batsman Parmindar Singh.
Coach Sanjay Rastogi is beaming. “It’s just the beginning. The next one year will give a glimpse of his potential,” he insists. The coach has moulded Bhuvneshwar into a cricketing force who has tasted success in his first international season.
The Man-of-the-series award in the tri-series in the West Indies last July was confirmation of the progress he has made since his debut against Pakistan in December, 2012.
“My mindset has not changed because of the success. I have always believed in keeping things simple. It helps because it is a simple game,” says Bhuvneshwar, known for the prodigious swing that marks his bowling. Adept with the new and old ball, he is a remarkably calm and composed performer, his celebrations never crossing the line.
Bhuvneshwar’s strong point is his ability to observe and learn. “It is not always that some senior would give you tips. Best is to watch him and adapt. I have been lucky though to have played along and against some of the legends of the game.”
The 23-year-old has never lost his temper on the field. “Never” he asserts.
Not even when a catch is dropped off his bowling. “No one drops a catch deliberately. Some of my wickets have come off brilliant catches, some off poor deliveries. I have also seen days when
I have bowled well but have not earned a wicket. It’s all part of the game. A good bowler should know how to come back from tough situations. I think I am mentally strong enough to deal with any challenge.”
Bhuvneshwar promises never to change because of the fame and money that has come his way in the past 10 months.
“There is no reason for me to change the way I meet people. On the field, I respect the opponents. I know if I perform I will not feel pressure. Nothing pleases me more than a compliment from a stranger. That makes my day.”