For a majority of the budding cricketers, setbacks are nothing new. They are made to earn every inch of what they get as the competition is tough and not always fair. Especially, when one’s financial stability is not that strong, then the Gentleman’s game, or better known as ‘Cricket’ remains a distant dream for many!
While many chose to quit in an anticipation of another disappointment, some have their eyes set on the ultimate goal, which is to play for the country.
Fortunately, Mohammed Siraj is a cricketer who falls in the second category. With no coach or mentor to guide him, his passion for the game has defied all odds and now Siraj will share the Sunrisers Hyderabad dressing room with the likes of David Warner and Yuvraj Singh.
— ANI (@ANI_news) February 20, 2017
One of the millions who play street cricket in our country, Siraj is one of those boys who we see regularly in our neighborhood. He never went to a cricket academy or had a formal coach. His debut first-class match was in November 2015. Siraj, who is the son of an autorickshaw driver, hardly knew that in 15 months his life will turn upside down.
So how did Siraj come in this game of cricket? What motivated him to keep fighting on the field, every single day?
“I was fascinated with the game from a young age but didn't get an opportunity to go in for any formal coaching. My parents wanted me to study and get a good job so that I could help the family financially. But I was smitten by cricket and used to play 'gulli' (street) cricket with a tennis ball in our area", Siraj told Times of India.
“My passion was to play cricket at the highest level,” quipped the 22-year old.
As Siraj saw his base price manifold, he recalled his first income from this sport – a mere Rs. 500.
“Today, I remember my first income playing cricket. It was a club match and my maternal uncle was the captain of the team. I got 9 wickets for 20 odd runs in that 25 over game. My uncle was so happy he gave me Rs 500 as a prize. It was a great feeling. But today when the bid was raised to Rs 2.6 crore, I just went numb,” said the Hyderabad boy, who was sold at 13 times his base price.
— Paul C Oommen (@Paul_Oommen) February 20, 2017
Siraj’s sheer dedication and his consistent performances with the ball earned him a spot in the Hyderabad U-23 team, thanks to which he broke into the state Ranji squad. After a moderate start to his FC career where he bagged only one wicket in the match, Siraj reaped rich rewards with Bharat Arun’s appointment as the Hyderabad coach.
Coach Arun’s arrival worked wonders for Siraj and he became the main architect of Hyderabad’s quarter-final run in the Ranji Trophy. He bagged 41 wickets in the season.
Though he was included in the India A squad scheduled to play against Australia, Siraj could not make the playing XI. Shrugging off the disappointment of not playing, he tried to pick up a few of the Australian fast bowlers’ skills.
So, how does the new millionaire feel on his lucrative deal?
“It's a dream come true for me. I am thrilled about it as I hadn't expected to be picked up for such a high price. I was hoping to play for some team this year as I have performed quite well but this price tag is beyond my expectation.”
"Since I started from tennis ball cricket, I am self-taught. I had pace but tennis ball cricket teaches you to bowl in block-holes. Then I played Hyderabad U-22, Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Hazare and then Ranji Trophy followed by India A. I have taken one step at a time. Next is IPL followed by the senior national team," he told TOI.
Image credit: @TheNewsMinute