From Indian Air Force to Indian Cricket Team, Meet the Spinner Saurabh Kumar
Seven years ago, the then 21-year-old Saurabh Kumar faced a simple career dilemma— whether to pursue his passion or secure a secure future.
Saurabh, working in the Indian Air Force on sports quota, was at the crossroads. He had a secure central government job with all the benefits but his heart inspired him to play professional cricket and earn that coveted India jersey.
The 28-year-old left-arm spinner and newcomer to the Indian Test team said in an interview, “There comes a moment in life when you have to make a decision. Whatever it is, it reads.”
“Quitting playing Ranji Trophy for services was a difficult decision. I loved being a man of the Indian Air Force and a part of the Indian defence, but there was a part of me that felt that I needed to work hard and play for India. The potential is there,” said the cricketer, who hails from UP’s Baghpat district.
“I was posted in Delhi. I played for services in Ranji Trophy for a year (2014-15 season) when Rajat Palliwal was our captain.
He recalled the old days, saying, “Since I was a sports quota entry, I didn’t have to perform any duty other than playing for the services. Had I quit cricket, I would have had to do full-time duty.”
Hailing from a middle-class family, his father worked as a JE (Junior Engineer) in All India Radio. His parents strongly supported his decision to take up the profession with passion.
“It’s amazing that when I told my parents that I was leaving the Air Force job, they didn’t ask me to reconsider even once. Both were very supportive of my choice.
Saurabh said, “I had decided to leave the Air Force, but when I saw that the parents are getting along, I got a lot of confidence to pursue my dream independently.”
left arm spinner dogma
There is something about left-arm spinners that makes him special and one of the character traits is the dogma which Saurabh believes he had in abundance.
“Now, we live in Ghaziabad, but in the early days of playing cricket in Delhi, it was a big test. In Baraut, my town in Baghpat district, we did not have great coaching facilities. So I had to take a daily train. Come to Delhi for my training at the National Stadium,” he said.
India’s only women’s cricket Dronacharya to coach Saurabh is Sunita Sharma, whose other notable disciple is former keeper Deep Dasgupta.
“If I had a 2:00 pm net. I would have left home at 10 am. It would be a three-and-a-half hour train journey and another half an hour to reach the stadium. And also on the way back. It was tough. But when I look back, it helped me,” said the man, who took 95 wickets in the last two first-class seasons (2018-19, 2019-20).
“When you are 15 or 16 years old, you don’t realize. Aapko mein junoon so hota hai, kuch kuch aapko muskhe nahi hota hai sir (When you have so much passion, nothing seems difficult). “
Tracked by Bishan Singh Bedik
A turning point for Saurabh as a young cricketer was coming under the tutelage of the great Bishan Singh Bedi. During the day, Bedi used to organize summer camps and a lot of youth used to practice there.
“Bedi sir loved what I saw in my bowling. He introduced me to a world of nuance about the little things on hold and stuff. There was no big change because he liked my action and I loved those areas. in which I used to bowl.
He said, “One thing happened during those summer camps that I got the opportunity to bowl hundreds of overs. One of the mantras of Bedi sir was “Mehhat mein kaam nahi chahne hai. There should be no short cut to success.
Once he entered the UP age group teams, it was former state keeper Manoj Mudgal who supported him greatly and the result is 196 wickets and 1572 runs in 46 first-class games.
Saurabh was once bought by Rising Pune Supergiants for Rs 10 lakh in 2017 but this time, days before his first India call-up, he did not sell in the IPL auction. But he has no regrets.