He has been a member of an IPL-winning team. He has all the strokes to be a hit with young cricket fans and what it takes to be ‘cool’, including a love for tattoos and puppies. He has been part of multiple Ranji Trophy triumphs by the Mumbai team.
On the maidan s, Suryakumar Yadav (Surya to his mates) is often referred to as one of the most maverick captains the city’s Ranji team has ever had.
Almost two years after resigning just before he was to be sacked as captain mid-way through the 2014-15 domestic season, Yadav recalled his controversial stint at the top in a chat with The Hindu .
What impact did the short captaincy stint have on you?
As a cricketer, it was a good responsibility on my shoulders to take the team ahead. When I went into the shoes of being the captain, then I realised it wasn’t an easy job for the players who have come in and led Mumbai in the past. It was a good thing that I started leading a team but maybe I got too excited at times, you can say that I was not able to take it ahead, so I had to step down.
In hindsight, would you say you were not prepared to lead?
It’s not like that. I had led Mumbai in the one-dayers, so it was not sudden or something surprising for me. I knew that we had done well in the one-dayers, so I may get a chance to lead Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, but it was a first-time experience. Not a good one, though, but it’s a learning process.
There were ego clashes during those two months with team members. How long did it take to sort out?
I realised this the very next year, because I thought we all have to play as a unit. My aim was always to be a part of the Mumbai team, and that the team should win Ranji Trophy. Then I realised that whatever it is, let us just keep it beyond the boundary. And when you are on the field, you should play together, focus together and those things are not going to work. Then I started ignoring all those negative energies and, with time, thankfully everything passed.
How much has that changed off the field?
It has been very good off the field. In the last two years, as you know, we have been doing a lot of team activity, team bonding sessions and we try and stay together as long as possible. That’s the main thing and a very important thing for the team: to understand each other on and off the field. It helps us figure out all the positives and negatives, understand an individual better. We know who is comfortable where and with what, and thankfully, for the last couple of years, we have been gelling really well after Chandrakant Pandit took over as coach, so it’s a very good thing for the team.
So as of now, there are absolutely no bitter feelings about what happened two seasons ago?
Nothing. No bitter feelings whatsoever. Whatever happened in the past was a learning process for all of us. Everyone was young, but now that we have sorted everything out. Life is always about negatives and positives. Looking back, I would say it’s a good thing; I would say whatever happened, happened for the good. It taught all of us a lot of things about life but the most important lesson we learnt was we should let bygones be bygones and move ahead in a positive way and work towards one common goal.
Did the captaincy stint hold you back as a batsman?
It didn’t hold me back actually, but there was certainly a responsibility on my shoulders to perform. At the same time, I knew that I had to go out there and express myself, because I have always been doing that. I have always believed that whatever you do in the nets, you have to translate that into match performance. I remember that season started well for me against J&K. Sure, it wasn’t a good game for the team, but for me, it was a good game personally. Somewhere in between, the rough patches surfaced when I stepped down as captain. The season didn’t end well for me but it didn’t affect me that much, because I knew if I start getting into my groove again, it will be difficult for my opponents.
Do you think you are a good man-manager?
Yes, I think so. Everyone needs guidance at every point in life. It’s a good thing to have good people around who can tell you if you’re doing right or wrong. There is no harm in walking up to anyone — the coach, captain or any player in the team — to discuss what you feel about them. Even now, I go up to players like Akhil Herwadkar, Shreyas Iyer, Vijay Gohil whenever they are bowling to me in the nets, and we discuss the mistakes I am making. So I would say I am a good man-manager.
But you tended to lose your temper as captain?
I would sometimes yell at a player. I have always thought whatever happens on the ground, we should leave it there and then. If you take it off the field, there’s no point in it, so whatever feelings I had on the field, whether it’s anger, frustration, I expressed it right away. We are good friends off the field, and on it as well. But if I am the captain, I mean strict business.
Do you remember having hurt anyone and regretting it?
I think on the ground, if I yell at someone, it’s for their betterment. I don’t regret anything I would have said to anyone on the field because whatever it was, it was for the sake of the team.
How is the Surya from two years ago different from the Surya today?
I have become calm and am slowly getting composed. Trying and learning to stay as calm and normal as possible rather than getting angry. Obviously, everyone gets angry, but I am trying to manage that and become a better player.