Bangalore: No one from the cricketing fraternity who knows Ambati Rayudu has ever said a single bad thing about his batting. It’s in the whispers and uncomfortable pauses that one found anything negative about him.
|Ambati Rayudu congratulates Virat Kohli upon reaching his century during the first match of the five-match ODI series against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club
Even that stuff – all in the distant past, mind you - had been said with a sad sigh, and not as allegations. The “indiscretions” were always tagged with immaturity, rather than bad attitude.
Those who knew him well called him a “very emotional” lad. The story of Rayudu is a fascinating tale of a young talent saddened, and hence angered, by the fear of burnt dreams, donning up a rebel hat in an almost self-destructive streak and just when all looked lost, suddenly surging back to the right path.
His problems, and fights, with the establishment in Hyderabad cricket (2005 to 2007) are known. His sulking to ICL, a parallel league, is known. In his journey out of the woods, he found support from one man from his past- Robin Singh, whom he thanked after scoring a fifty on his ODI debut against Zimbabwe.
Singh, who is currently in USA, is obviously delighted to hear his boy’s progress. They both go back a long way. In 2002, Robin was the U-19 coach when a teenaged Rayudu hit a blistering 114-ball 177 in a one-day game against England. He seemed set for greater glory.
“That was the greatest pressure he faced, you know,” Robin says now. “Back then, he was supposed to be the first one – from that age-group (Suresh Raina was part of that team) – to make it into the Indian team.
Things didn’t go well after that for him but I have always tracked his progress. I saw some of his ICL games, and was very happy with the way he was batting.”
Past is Past
What did Robin tell Rayudu during the time with Mumbai Indians? “I just told him that past is past. Sometimes, we can get too hung up and self-critical about the past. He is very sincere and emotional boy who is cricket mad.”
Let’s dip back to his past to find out about some of his troubles before we return again to the present. It was Rajesh Yadav, the Hyderabad coach that Rayudu had problems with but by the time Vivek Jaisimha took over as coach in 2006-07, he was pretty miffed with the entire system.
Once, he and Arjun Yadav, the son of Shivlal who runs Hyderabad cricket, almost came to blows. There were other episodes as well. “He is a very, very competitive guy, very aggressive,“ Jaisimha, who is a great fan of Rayudu the batsman, recalled about those troubled times.
“But then he started having problems with umpires and with things that were not in control. He never could control his emotions, let's say, to his detriment,“ Jaisimha had said in 2007.“He would allow things to affect him.
He was always finding something to crib against; he was never at fault. We had lots of conversations but …” That was then. “Anyone can get misguided; he was so young then,” Singh says now.
For a young man, the wilderness years must have led to some self doubts. “Everyone has that,” Robin says. “It was about clearing all that from his mind and it was simple as he is very talented.
Once he saw success, his confidence returned. It was just about him understanding that he is still good enough for bigger things. He is a match winner. Sachin Tendulkar helped him a lot.” Rayudu has put his troubled youngster persona to bed. It’s all about Rayudu the batsman now. Let’s see how far he goes.
Today’s game: India Vs Zimbabwe, Harare. Live: Ten Cricket 12.30 pm
► Sometimes, we can get too hung up and self-critical about the past. He is very sincere and emotional boy who is cricket mad
- Robin Singh