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Strokes of success

C. Siva Kumar. Photo: G.Moorthy   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

C. Siva Kumar may not be a swashbuckling cricketer but has worked hard to book a berth in the Indian cricket team for the physically challenged that tours to Pakistan for a T-20 triangular series from May 9 to 18 in Lahore. Apart from the host nation, the other team in the fray is Afghanistan.

“I was six months old when my parents identified my disability,” says Siva Kumar. “They noticed that I was not moving my left leg like my other leg. Immediately they took me to doctor but were told I will have to live with the deformity for rest of my life,” he says.

When he was a child his friends in the neighbourhood neglected him. “I stayed indoors watching cricket on television. That was the time I gathered a lot of information about the game. I watched a lot of international cricket. My cricketing knowledge helped me to befriend my classmates in school,” he says.

Physical deformity in no way curtailed his passion for cricket. Amazed at his sound batting technique, his classmates accepted him as part of their cricket team. “I was studying sixth standard then. After watching my friends play a friendly cricket match at school, I suggested some corrections in their batting and bowling techniques. From then on I became one among them,” says Siva Kumar.

He has sharpened his skills by playing cricket with able-bodied friends. He has also become fiercely competitive while being aware of his limitations. Be it the footwork or the batting posture, this right-handed cricketer has developed his own technique. “I very well know that my balance would get affected when I stretch my front leg. Hence, I stay in my crease and smother the bowling.”

Having realised that he would not be able to move swiftly while fielding, he opted to become a wicketkeeper. His quick reflexes also helped him to succeed in the new position. He gradually developed into a full-fledged cricketer and played for a team in the local cricket tournaments.

Siva Kumar surprised many with his ability to hit. His hits carried a punch and sailed long. He soon became the darling of his team and earned respect from rivals too. He was also part of the team that played in the third division league conducted by the Madurai District Cricket Association. “As I was physically challenged, association people had injury concerns and did not allow me to play more matches in the league. Then I decided to organise a team of challenged cricketers. By that time I had also perfected my bowling skills,” he says. Though he did not have a long run up, his bowling had enough sting to hurry the batsmen.

Siva Kumar met district coach for the physically challenged J. Ranjith Kumar, who helped him to take part in the selection trials organised by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association for the physically challenged.

He showed a lot of promise in the trials and that fetched him a place in the state cricket team. “Cricket for physically challenged is played according to International Cricket Council’s laws. The only concession is that a team is allowed to have two by-runners,” he says.

String of successful performances in the south zone-level cricket tournaments elevated him as vice-captain of the team and he became a prominent player. Soon the state cricket think-tank entrusted him with the job of leading the state side. He immediately changed the team’s mindset.

“The team was pessimistic in its approach. I was just one win away to change fortunes. Once I took over the reigns I worked hard to achieve that win. We went for the south zone-level cricket tournament for the physically challenged in Puducherry and won the cup,” he says.

Subsequently in the national selection trial tournaments held in Visakhapatnam and Kochi, Siva Kumar stole the limelight claiming, man of the series, best all rounder and best batsman awards. Impressed by his performances, the Physically Challenged Cricket Association of India picked him to represent the country.

At 27, Siva Kumar takes care of the grocery store run by his mother in Anupanadi. His sole aim now is to do some good for the physically challenged cricket in the country and have more matches for the state team to attract young talent.


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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 6:05:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/c-siva-kumar-in-the-indian-cricket-team-for-the-physically-challenged/article7081324.ece

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