Dinesh Karthik September 28, 2009

'I wanted to be Botham'

India's stand-in keeper on his idol, a gift from Vettori, his complicated surname, and his favourite Rajnikant line

Are you tired of carrying drinks yet?
A little bit, but I prefer carrying drinks for the Indian team than being anywhere else.

Any funny experiences as a drinks carrier?
The first time I carried drinks was during the 2004 Champions Trophy. It was a wet outfield and I was running with the drinks and I couldn't stop myself and just went sliding into Sourav Ganguly, who was giving a team chat in the huddle.

We've heard Daniel Vettori gifted you a motorbike during this year's IPL?
He won the Man of the Match in our first game. He doesn't like motorbikes and he probably thought I was a good guy. I've kept it back home in Chennai and ride it sometimes.

Name an interesting thing you own.
I have a St Bernard dog. They are very tough to take care of in the tropical weather in Chennai. They usually are found in mountains and the snow.

If you were a coach how would you keep Sreesanth quiet?
Send him to dance class every day.

Are you talkative?
Hmm, yes, I am.

Are you punctual?
I've overslept a couple of times.

Do you swear in Hindi or English on the field?
Hindi - the other teams don't understand it.

If you could change one thing in cricket, what would it be?
I would change 50-overs cricket into two innings each of 20-overs.

Are you a walker?
Not really.

You seemed to have finally settled on a name after changing it a few times. How many have you had?
My mom asked me to change it the first time. I had an extra "a" in my last name , and it then became an extra "c" as well, and then the extra "a" without the "c", and I don't know how many times I had to change it. But now it's back to normal: Karthik.

Did you have to change your signature, too?

Name one disadvantage of having your wife on tour.
It's very tough to have a boys' day out.

Tell us about a cricketing souvenir you treasure.
The 2007 Twenty20 World Cup shirt, signed by the whole team.

Who was your favourite Tamil movie hero as a kid?
It was Rajnikant, and it will be Rajnikant. I also like Surya, the present-day superstar, who is a good guy.

What is your favorite Rajni line of dialogue?
"Naan oru thadava sonna nooru thadava sonna mathiri" [If I've said it once, it's like I've said it a hundred times].

What would you do if you're stuck at a airport?
I don't Twitter, and I'm done with Sudoku, so probably read a book or chat with someone.

Have you ever given MS Dhoni a wicketkeeping tip?
I don't remember giving him any tips, but I gave him my pads during the finals of the tri-series in Sri Lanka recently. He tried to stop a ball that was going down and he tried to slide, but the straps of his pads came off and he had to use mine. We won the game!

Was there ever a cricket role you wanted to enact when you growing up?
I heard a lot about Ian Botham's Ashes, in 1981. Everybody still talks about his performance. I always wanted to do be an allrounder. I don't know why I picked keeping. I really wish I could contribute with both bat and ball, just like he did.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo