Of bat, ball, and a phone call that changed the course of Venkatesh Iyer's life
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Mumbai, Sep 24 (Cricket News) A phone call from a hospital to former BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale changed the course of Venkatesh Iyer's life even before his ability with the bat, and utility with the ball, came into the picture.
Ignored from the Ranji Trophy camp in 2019, Iyer picked up the phone and sought help from the veteran administrator, who was also a former national selector and who was also greatly impressed by the youngster's attitude and the willingness to go the extra mile.
"I have been watching him right from the U-14 tournaments. He always looked good and he used to keep wickets also when he was 12-13," Jagdale told PTI.
"But the crucial part where I can say I had some contribution was, two-three years back, he did reasonably well for MP in U-23 tournament and it must be 2019 when selectors were picking Ranji Trophy teams. So they had short-listed some 25-30 boys and Venkatesh was not in that list.
"I don't know the details, but he called me from hospital. He told me, 'sir, I am in the hospital for last 8-9 days and I have not played any cricket but, if I get a chance in selection trials, it will be good for me and I will try to do well.
"The only thing I liked is his attitude, even though he was in hospital for six-eight days, he called me," Jagdale fondly remembered.
Jagdale then requested the selectors to give Iyer a fair trial. And the rest, as they say, is history.
From once failing to make the Ranji probable to taking the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians attack to the cleansers, Iyer has come a long way.
On the 26-year-old's days of trying to stake a claim for state selection, Jagdale shared more details.
"Then I was not a selector but I spoke to the selectors, chairman was Keerti Patel, I spoke to him, I spoke to Devendra Bundela, who was the captain and somehow, I convinced that this boy has been doing well.
"I told them you should be looking for a fifth bowler also and he is a batsman-bowler, he can be there as a batsman, plus your fifth bowler in Ranji Trophy," remembered the 71-year-old Jagdale.
"So, you give him a fair trial. This is what I told them: although you have not picked him in probable, you give him two trail matches, give him an opportunity, he is out of touch, so I told them that one match will be not fair since he must not have played cricket for a long time.
"They did so on my recommendation and he must have done reasonably well and this is how he came into MP probable also," added Jagdale, one of the most respected administrators of the game.
Jagdale reiterated that he liked the attitude of Iyer and that he also worked hard on his fitness.
"He was struggling with his fitness two years back, but he worked very hard on his fitness and other areas, and he always looked confident and the best thing I liked about him was that he gave his 100 per cent whenever he played," said Jagdale.
Iyer's club coach Dinesh Sharma recalled with pride how joining his team made a difference for Iyer.
"This is 2011-12 thing, he used to play at the Khanuja club, where he used to go from his childhood, as it was near his house. So, I was with the MYCC (Maharaja Yashwatrao Cricket Club) club, from where he plays right now.
"I saw him playing when he was a kid, his mother came to me and I suggested to them that he should either play for CCI, where Jagdale Sir teaches or MYCC, he can be better, as he has the potential," Sharma recollected.
Sharma said he had thought that Iyer's height could be a problem.
"After six months, his father, his mother came to me, and then said that we want him to play for your club and he will be under you. I felt that his height could be a problem.
"So, we started working on his fitness, and he was a natural hitter and used to generate power in the shots and we worked on his batting," recalled Sharma.
According to Sharma, Iyer was "mentally strong" and he pushed his mother not to stop him from playing cricket and also narrated his journey in age-group cricket.
"There are ups and downs in cricket, when he wasn't selected his mother used to come, he was very good in academics, his mother would say 'our relatives used to say don't let him play, his life will be spoiled'.
"I motivated his mother not to go ahead, saying the day he will shine, these people would come to you," Sharma signed off.
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News Source : PTI