The inclusion of Ranganath Vinay Kumar in the Indian squad for the Twenty20 World Cup is much deserved, statistically speaking. But it is also nothing short of seismic, sociologically speaking.
The man hails not from traditional urban cricket centres like Bangalore and Mysore, but the humbler cotton cocoon of Davanagere. It wasn’t on the lush green grounds of some international school that Vinay cut his cricketing teeth, but on the hard outfield of the Mothiveerappa high school grounds.
He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, with his mother dropping him off at a coaching class in a fancy car; the servant lugging the kit. Rather, like Vinod Kambli, he was born on the other side of the railway track; his father driving a hired autorickshaw to eke out a living for the family.
And unlike plenty of recent worthies who have been fast-tracked into India’s most coveted club, Vinay has had to strain every sinew in match after match, with bat and ball. There was no “godfather” holding a gun at the heads of the selectors. Despite the bucketful of wickets he had soaked up in the last three seasons, he wasn’t considered good enough for a BCCI contract by the worthies.
But, unlike the benne dose (butter dosa) that his hometown is famous for, all who know him and have dealt with him, have only one thing to say: Vinay is the Rahul Dravid of bowling: gutsy, hard working, tough as nails, never say die and streetsmart. The word impossible has been scratched out of his cricketing lexicon.
And, surely, anybody who remembers a dead coach on the biggest day of his life, has his heart in the right place?
Here’s how sections of the media covered the selection of a true son of the soil.
Cricinfo/ A break that was long overdue: “Vinay’s friend, Harshan, used to tell him, ‘If you get Sachin Tendulakar”s wicket, you will definitely play for India. Whoever has bowled him—S. Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla— has played for India.” Last year, in the IPL in South Africa, Vinay got Tendulkar with a beauty in Port Elizabeth. So Vinay called Harshan, and asked, ‘Okay maga [mate], I have got his wicket, now tell me, I’ll play for India or what?’ Harshan, like the selectors, had an excuse ready. ‘No, I told you to get him bowled.’
“In the third season of the IPL, at the Brabourne Stadium, Tendulkar was in much better form than he was in Port Elizabeth. He was moving across and playing unbelievable flick shots from in front of the stumps. Vinay, though, got one to nip in a touch extra, and hit the exposed leg stump. Harshan texted immediately, ‘Get ready to play for India.’ Six days later, when he was driving to another friend’s place, on a short break from continuous IPL matches, Vinay got the belated call-up.”
The Times of India/ Auto driver’s son rises: ” Having been let loose for a couple of days by the management of his IPL side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Vinay chose to go for a long drive in his Santro, mostly in a bid to escape the tension that has always enveloped him and his family whenever the national selectors meet. Had this scene taken place a few years before, he could well have been moving about in an autorickshaw, not the usual hired one but the one driven by his dad Ranganath to keep the family fire burning.”
Hindustan Times/ Happy to see my parents smile: “I had been expecting this for a while and every time I would be disappointed. My parents would ask me why I wasn’t getting selected despite good performances. Sometimes I would tell them that perhaps I wasn’t destined to play for the country…. Now I am happy seeing them happy.
“Maybe God wanted me to work harder and longer…. We weren’t financially strong, and me being the eldest, it was my duty to take care of them. But looking at my interest in the game, they encouraged me to continue playing. They never made me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t helping them in running the family.””
The Hindu/ Vinay has a legacy to live up to: “Indian cricket’s latest heroes are continuing to emerge from the hinterland. Vinay is a fresh example of an iron-willed small-town lad carving his space under the sun.”
Deccan Herald/ Gutsy Vinay gets T20 cut: “The wait, which appeared eternal, is finally over. His State team coach K. Sanath Kumar’s reaction was laced with a tinge of sadness when Abhimanyu Mithun was picked for the first Test against South Africa in February. While he was all happy for Mithun, he was disappointed that the big-hearted Vinay missed out on the opportunity. However, Sanath is a happy man now, with Vinay getting recognised at last.”
DNA/ Bangalore medium pacer pulls a fast one: “The wait is finally over for Indian cricket’s ‘Nobody’s Child’…. It’s been a long journey for the son of an automobile spare parts dealer in the small town of Davangere. Despite taking the highest number of wickets in first class cricket in 2007-08 and 2009-10, Vinay was not considered for a central contract by the BCCI. But he did not lose hope and believed that his day would come.”
Cricinfo/Maybe God wanted me to work harder and longer: “Few people get the chance early, few have to wait. We weren’t financially strong, and me being the eldest, it was my duty to take care of them. But looking at my interest in the game, they encouraged me to continue playing. They never made me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t helping them in running the family.”
CricketNext/ Vinay ready to put his best foot forward: “”I am very happy for my son. I am sure he will perform well for the country,” said Soubhagya, his mother. “Though the call has come later than what we had anticipated, I am happy for him. My son is a very hard worker. I am confident that he will make India proud,” said Vinay’s father Ranganath.
The Telegraph/ Vinay thanks selectors: “I would also like to thank my coach Prakash Pawar, who is no more, and L.M. Prakash for recognising my talent and developing me into what I am today. K. Jeswanth and K. Sanath Kumar were also instrumental in shaping my career. I’m grateful to former Karnataka bowler Y.B. Patel. He would say that I will go on to play big cricket and always encouraged me. Even on his deathbed, he told someone to hand over a kit bag to me. I haven’t used it. I treasure it.”
Vijaya Karnataka/ Dil khush: “Whenever the selection committee sat down to pick the team, I would sit in front of the television to see if my brother would be included. I felt proud when he sent titans like Sachin and Saurav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag back to the pavilion. My brother just loves Rahul Dravid. He has his pictures pasted in every corner of our home,” says his sister Vinutha.
Top photograph: courtesy rediff.com
Bottom: Vinay’s mother Soubhagya (right) helps sister Vinutha (centre) stuff doodha pedhas into the mouth of his coach L.M. Prakash in Davanagere on Friday (courtesy Praja Vani)
Also read: A real workhorse from the land of benne dose
Gundappa Vishwanath: From Bhadravathi, the Bhimsen Joshi of cricket
Javagal Srinath: The world’s most famous Mysorean?
Glad for the lad. Hope he doesn’t go the way so many bowlers have gone in Indian team in recent years. Lets wish him good luck and a long career ahead.
An inspiring story… good to see it all in one place.
Great..thats beauty of IPL..
Sakath olle suddi kotri, benne dose thindhagaaythu! Given his talent and hardwork, I am sure he will be a mainstay in Indian cricket for years to come.
Everytime you read stories like this, you pray their hard work be rewarded.
Hope Vinay achieve all the success in his career representing India.
Vinay deserves every bit of what he has achieved. His selection finally reminds me one thing – “When going gets tougher, the tougher gets going.”
IPL or for that matter any T20 is a batsman’s tournament and for a player and that too a bowler to use that as a launch pad to get into the National team is praise worthy.
I was sad & echoed the sentiments of Javagal Srinath recently when he was not in the reckoning for the one day matches against South Africa. With so much of records to speak for him there were spoilers like S Gavaskar who considered him to be a ‘Fringe’ player. But Vinay proved them all wrong.
All the best Vinay.
Heard Vinay is ” sakkath speed maga”..best wishes to him..hope he plays for India soon…
I am really happy for Vinay. His hardwork is paying off. I sincerely hope that he will get to play few matches and not merely treated as a passenger for T20 world cup in WI. why i am telling this is, we have seen many such cases earlier.
This is great. Hearty congratulations to namma huDuga :)
Before IPL 1.0, I was anti IPL! But now I am pro IPL but with less Bollywood in it. IPL is a great platform for cricketers like Vinay.
Coming to the T20 team, inclusion of Rohit Sharma and Piyush Chawla is a big WTF. A case of Godfather holding a gun..?
I hope he sees this as only the start of his ambitions and not the end point.
Good Luck Vinay Kumar
(from a Ranji tragic who followed the Karnataka-Mumbai match ball for ball..almost)
Best wishes to him, and to many others like him who need best wishes.
I was veryglad to hear about his selection. Wishing him all the best.
Congratulations and all the best Vinay, YOU DESERVED IT!!
Manish Pandey should have been included too
Inclusion of Rohit sharma was stupidity
best of luck vinay
I visit Davanagere very frequently..After IPL-1 I had actually been in this guy’s dad’s auto..Man he was so proud of his son.The rickshaw was full of Vinay’s photos,posters and articles about him from all newspapers!! Congrats Vinay..
PS- Churumuri, I clearly remember u mocking KPL(dunno if u did that to IPL too). And now u write long articles on people who found success through it..Churumuri u suck!
Vinay, You are inspiring. All the best maga….. :)
Great News namagella….All the very best Vinay avre….
Hoping to see Mithun Abhimanyu and M Pande joining India team soon
Fortune Favours the brave..Best wishes to you Vinay..
Congrats to Vinay on a well deserved and well earned berth.
That was a great compilation Churumuri….
Congrats!! Why are there so few success stories coming out of small-town karnataka in all fields – compared to other states? It is a case of both fewer stories being there and even fewer being covered and credited with.
Is it also the case of people climbing up fogetting the ladder. Can we ever expect srinath to start a coaching academy in mysore, an NRN starting schools and colleges in mysore and hubli, a kumar malavalli giving back to mysore and malavalli. I am talking about a sustaind, organized effort, not a namesake donation, etc.
This is excellent news! I just hope Vinay doesn’t merely have to warm the benches (like A. Mithun had to do after being drafted into Indian team recently) and is really included in the playing eleven.
I already see snide remarks being passed in the cricketing fraternity about his lack of pace. However the same folks do grudgingly admit that he has lot of guile and a very hard-working guy. This is somewhat similar to the pundits who kept on carping about Kumble’s lack of spin or whatever. Kumble in any case had the last laugh and piled enough eggs on the faces of these chappies – so much that they could have opened roadside shops selling omelettes. I just hope Vinay does the same.
But strange indeed are the ways in which Indian cricket selectors work. Seriously what gives for Piyush C and Rohit Sharma to frolic on the Caribbean beaches? Or for that matter Yuvi ‘paunch’ Singh? I don’t want to sound parochial and all that but Manish Pandey has better story as of now as compared to the aforementioned trio.
Here is wishing Vinay Kumar greater success in the years to come.
@Anshuman, you are right about the strange ways of the selectors. It makes one feel as though part of the team is pre-selected and current performances count for very little.