November 25, 2001

Sridharan Sriram: Robin Singh is the role model for all young cricketers

One does not often come across someone as humble as Sridharan Sriram. A conversation with this diminutive opening batsman leaves you with an overwhelming feeling of simplicity. Perhaps it is exactly that quality that makes him speak freely while talking to CricInfo after making an excellent century for Board President's XI against England in the three-day match at Hyderabad.

In his innings, Sriram was very sluggish to start with, especially after losing his opening partner Wasim Jaffer for a golden duck. There were even a few English journalists who asked the CricInfo correspondent if Sriram was always as boring. But, after taking his time to get to his fifty, he blossomed to play an entertaining knock, forcing those same journalists to eat their words.

The batsman went on to make 149, pressing his claims for the opener's slot in the national side. It was an innings of determination and character, which would not have missed the attention of the selectors assembled in Hyderabad.

Sriram is a 25-year-old opening batsman from Tamil Nadu who has represented India in a few one-day internationals. He was a recepient of the Border-Gavaskar scholarship and spent some time in the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy in Adelaide, along with Shiv Sunder Das and Mohammad. Kaif.

Sriram is a brilliant fielder and an able left-arm spinner. He has now been working again on his bowling after neglecting it for a few years. Sriram had a successful tour of the West Indies with the India `A' side a few years ago, sharing honours with Murali Kartik and Rahul Sanghvi. Starting cricket as a left-arm spinner, Sriram would be an immense addition to Indian cricket if he can develop into an able allrounder.

In an exclusive interview to CricInfo, Sriram talked about his batting in the middle and a few other aspects of the game.

On the time he spent in Adelaide:

It is without doubt one of the the best times I have ever had. I learnt a lot about the importance of fitness and how to stay fit. New concepts about training and weight-training were taught, from which I have benefited a lot. We trained indoors most of the time, as it was in the middle of the southern winter, and I learned to play shortpitched bowling. What I was most impressed by was the attitude of the Australians towards the game.

On his knock against England:

I was very nervous to start with. I just wanted to hang in there as long as possible and found out that the ball was not coming on to the bat. Initially I went through a phase when I was not timing the ball at all. I just told myself that things were going to change, to spend more time, so that my timing would come back.

On the prospect of playing for India in Tests:

Frankly it was never in my mind when I went in to bat; I just had to focus on my job. You can't keep thinking about playing for India and lose out on the present. I told myself that I'll see what I can today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

On the English bowling attack:

I watched Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick in action in Sri Lanka, in similar conditions, and they bowled very well to provide early breakthroughs. Later on, Ashley Giles and Robert Croft got the wickets. Giles is supposed to be the number one spinner in England, but I didn't get to have a look at him. Martyn Ball bowled well initially, but lost his length later on. Craig White was bowling offcutters today, the wicket was such; you just can't help it."

On his form this domestic season:

Getting hundreds is a habit that I had lost for some six to eight months. The Gopalan Trophy century was an international hundred, all said and done; it made me believe that I can score runs at the international level.

On Tamil Nadu skipper Robin Singh:

Frankly, I am a great admirer of Robin; at this age, he is far more fitter than all of us. It makes me ashamed of myself too. The amount of training and hard work he puts in is amazing. He is the role model for all young cricketers. You may name Sachin Tendulkar and all other names, but if someone has played for India just on sheer merit and hard work, it is Robin Singh. We are all proud that he is from Tamil Nadu.

Sriram must surely figure in the selectors' shortlist of openers. The youngster might have a long way to go to get to the top, but he is heading in the right direction.