Let me introduce you to Robin Singh. But I’m not talking about Mumbai India’s coach here. I am talking, instead, about the right-arm fast bowler Robin Singh widely regarded as Robin Singh (Junior) in the cricketing world. Robin played one Test match for India against New Zealand in 1999. Today the former Indian cricketer is working as a commentator for All India Radio and as a tax inspector for ITO, New Delhi.
Robin Singh made his lucky debut only after the previously selected bowler Javagal Srinath got injured. The Delhi lad was asked to fly to Hamilton to make his international debut, but even after putting in a decent performance by castling three wickets, the Hamilton Test remained his solitary game in Indian colours.
Robin Singh was born on 1 January 1970 to a farmer Mittar Chaudhary in a village in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Robin represented Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, with his best performances including a 10-wicket haul for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy game. Robin also vice-captained the Delhi Ranji team for a while.
When I asked Robin why he didn’t play for India after the Hamilton Test, he replied, “Beta main 28 sal ka ho gaya tha, mera us time par career banana mushkil tha or tujhe bhi pata hoga politics chalte hain”. These were the words he spoke to me about five years back, and I still remember each and every letter that came out of his mouth. I trained under Robin Singh for a period of two years at my school where he used to give cricket coaching. Even years after my playing days I still remember each and every word spoken by him. Besides being a great cricketer, Robin was a terrific trainer who emphasized on physical fitness. He used to make us run, and then run faster.Running was involved in almost everything – if you dropped a catch, you had to run two rounds; if you didn’t play well in the nets, you had to go for a round wearing your batting pads. When we were not selected for a game, he used to personally call us and talk for a few minutes on unrelated subjects.
Coming back to his cricketing career, Robin says that he climbed the hierarchy and became one of the most influential cricketers for Delhi in the final period of his career. Another period that Robin remembers is the aftermath of the tragic Raman Lamba incident. Robin says that after Raman passed away, he was motivated to play more and give his absolute best on the field, which is why he slowly started getting recognized in India. Robin Singh finally called it a day in 2004; he ended his glorious domestic career with 12 five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul as well. He played 45 first-class games and took 149 wickets.
There were two more cricketers on whom Robin had substantial influence, and unlike me they play for India today – Virender Sehwag and Ashish Nehra. Robin had called Sehwag for one of our school games in 2005 where I picked up four wickets, probably my best ever cricket game.
I always wonder: despite being an excellent bowler, why couldn’t Robin extend his international career? Almost 15 years since his Test debut, the answer still remains incomplete!