There are many run-getters in the world. There are some run getters in the world who play consistently. There are a few run getters in the world who play consistently and score huge very often. There is only one, who is a run getter, can play consistently, score huge very often, and carry a team to safety during crisis. His name is Badrinath, Tamil Nadu’s very own Subramaniam Badrinath.
Badrinath – Chennai’s very own child
Born in one of those dusty, cricket loving streets of Chennai on the 30th of August 1980, this man would definitely not remember the heroics of Kapil Dev’s World Cup victory in 1983, and should probably only have heard his dad telling him the tales of India’s biggest success then. When he was 9 years and 2 months old, a then 16 year old Sachin Tendulkar debuted for India. Later, he had told in an interview that this was the age from which he had a dream to play for India. He was and is always a man who kept Sachin at a higher pedestal, and looked at him as an example for everything. That should be the reason he’s got this far in his game till date.
Cricket was never new for the city of Chennai, and thus, like all wonderful stars of the Tamil Nadu setup, he too got into the game only due to street cricket, never compromising on the ‘everyday evening game’ after school. Pursuing his schooling at the prodigious Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan in Chennai, he was recognized at a tender age itself as a player fit to play the highest form of cricket. With good support from his peer, and good coaching and training, he grew and evolved as a cricketer, rising in ranks in various Tamil Nadu teams, before featuring for the senior team at the Ranji Trophy 2001 at the age of 20. And from this point, there was no looking back.
The new domestic champ
For a player so young playing in a star studded Tamil Nadu top order, he conquered all nerves and played brilliant cricket to set himself as a permanent in the top order. Besides Ranji Trophy, the same year, he played in colour cloths for Tamil Nadu and cemented his place in that setup too. He was there to stay. And he stayed there for so long, that at a point of time, he became more than simply a mainstay. At any point of the game, be it any pitch or any bowling attack, the team was damn sure that Badri could tackle that with ease. That is how much he has grown to achieve till now, and he has not stopped yet.
Being the huge run machine that he already is, he successfully also tried his hands at throwing down a few off-beaks, was successful, and would often be able to break a partnership and take a wicket or two. He is lightning quick on the outfield, and keeps his body fit and extremely agile always. He has also marshaled his troops for quite a number of seasons, and led them to many a semifinal till now. He was and still remains as unarguably the most indispensable part of the Tamil Nadu XI, after having scored about 8600 runs at an eye popping average of 61.40. Badrinath, in Tamil means the Lord of the mount of Badri, in other words, Lord Vishnu, the protector. Undeniably over the past decade, he has been the lone protector of the Tamil Nadu team, guiding them during their troubled phases during tough games. But alas, this man couldn’t find a permanent place for himself in the Indian team, mainly due to the fact that they had an already wonderfully set batting order, and once these started retiring, players to whom the chances were first given thoroughly utilized it and made their existence permanent in the team.
First taste of international cricket
Being utterly disappointed at the chance not being given at all, he caught the news appealing the BCCI to give him “a chance at least to fail” in the international team. And that’s how he earned his first Test. He didn’t do too bad either, scoring a wonderful half century in the second innings. Facing the deadly pace of Steyn, this man battled the in swingers and the faster ones to manage scoring a very good looking 56 of 139 balls in a bouncy Vidharba track. It was a very mature innings in a game where all the other batsmen failed to cross even 15, except for Virendar Sehwag. If he was able to do that in the first innings that he played in Test cricket, then why not given him a string of chances? He definitely needs time to prove that he is fit to play at the international level on a permanent basis.
After a few good IPL seasons, he slowly started gaining a little more international fame and popularity, and so was called up to the one day team, where again he lost his place due to a string of poor performances in a series against the West Indies. But for a man of his fitness and confidence, this is definitely not the end of the road for him. He has a lot left in him to retire this soon.
Return to Test cricket – a possibility?
He just announced a few months before this season that he is going to play hard to earn himself a Test recall. Post the big press meeting, he’s done justice to his words. Beginning with this Ranji season, he’s scored in 3 innings 358 runs, including a massive 248. With the current run of form he’s in, and if he also performs well in the third round, in all likeliness, there is a chance he might get a positive nod from the selectors for the South African series.
At the moment, a place is not likely for him in the team, but there is a minute chance, if the selectors believe that a good replacement to Tendulkar can be Badrinath, he could make it at least to the squad. If the selectors also believe that they can run with the same combination that they played against West Indies, then there is a chance they might give Badri a look in. With R Ashwin playing the role of a good all-rounder, and Rohit scoring consecutive centuries in two innings, R Jadeja might be just warming the benches in South Africa, which means Badri has a real chance now.
Many top international stars, like his CSK team mate Mike Hussey, made their Test debuts only after turning 30. However old this man becomes, he is always a wonder to watch and a threat to all the bowlers who bowl to him. Thus, Badri has enough to console himself and tell himself that he needs to amass a huge score this season to be recognized by the Board and given a chance when possible next. He has surely been one of the better technicians India have missed watching over these years. This is not the man’s end, and probably, his tale is yet to begin.