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The Pravin Tambe fairytale

Age is just a number for Pravin Tambe

Pravin Tambe

For some, fairy tales don’t exist in real lives; for others, they do. For all those who believe that such tales don’t exist, the story of Pravin Tambe is something that is very difficult to ignore. It may not be a ‘Cinderella-man’ version, but it’s a version much greater: it is a story of a cricketer who would’ve, just like us, dreamed of playing against the international stars and then actually did.

Tambe came into the limelight last year, at the age of 41, after Rajasthan Royals gave him an opportunity to represent them in the Indian Premier League. Someone who had never got the break to represent his state side all of a sudden had the opportunity to play against the best of the world.

Tambe made his IPL debut against Delhi Daredevils; even though he grabbed no wickets, he bowled economically and gave away 30 runs in his 4 overs.

“For someone who has not even got a chance to play first-class cricket and has worked hard all these years in Kanga league, it is terrific story” – Rahul Dravid

Former club mate and Mumbai selector Abey Kuruvilla, in one of his recent interviews, said, “Tambe rose to success only after shifting to spin bowling from medium pace, which was about 8 years ago.”  He might have had to make this change due to his age and fitness, but, no doubt, it’s a change that has worked well in his favor.

The glorious turn of events in Tambe’s life and the selection in the playing XI of Mumbai’s Ranji side have been the much talked about topic amongst the cricket fans, but only a few know that Tambe was selected in Mumbai’s Ranji probables squad for the 2001/02 season. Although he was continually snubbed thereafter, the leg-spinner didn’t lose hope and made himself a permanent fixture in the Kanga league, hoping that one day his dreams will turn into reality.

Tambe’s journey in IPL kick-started when he gave the trials for the Royals ahead of the 2013 season and impressed their captain Rahul Dravid.

In the very first year of him representing the Royals, he was awarded the ‘Golden Wicket’ for taking the most number of wickets in the Champions League 2013, thereby strengthening his position in the side and getting the much needed acclaim. Although he made his debut in the IPL, it was in CLT20 that he caught the eyes of the cricketing world. 

Tambe was then called up to play for the Mumbai Ranji team in the 2013/14 season. He made his Ranji debut against Odisha at the age of 42.

He has maintained his consistency this season, and it’s only fair to say that he has grown from strength to strength over the last two IPL seasons. The hat-trick he took against Kolkata Knight Riders this year is definitely the highlight of his IPL career. It’s without doubt a fact that Royals’ success this season has to be largely credited to Tambe, for his consistent performance with the ball.

A part of Rainford side, Tambe has been a notable presence in the English local cricket scene. After retaining Tambe for the 2013/14 season, the Rainford released a statement saying, “Tambe is precisely the type of cricketer we need, to pass on knowledge and experience to our young side.”

In the 2011 edition of the Bridging Finance Solutions Liverpool competition, Tambe scored 621 runs and took 48 wickets. He has scored 7,500 runs and taken 600 wickets over the last 10 years for the English side. This stat is particularly unique because it highlights Tambe’s success with the bat, something for which he isn’t well-known.

It takes a great deal of zeal to be passionate about the game at the age of 42; the devotion to the game is very clear in Tambe’s eyes. Sunil Gavaskar said and I quote, “The ‘young’ Pravin Tambe has shown that even in this format of the game, there is place for leg-spin.”

Tambe’s consistency is something that is worth stressing upon; in fact, at the age of 42, it’s even harder to be consistent because fitness is a key reason to worry. Tambe has somehow managed to survive all these obstacles.

Hence, I can’t help but think whether Tambe  would now be good enough for the Indian team, especially in the T20 format? Can there be another chapter written in Tambe’s fairy tale? If the IPL performances are the criteria to judge, he surely is worthy to be picked for the Indian team. He has 31 wickets in the 23 IPL matches he has played, and that’s a good enough record to at least be considered for the Indian side. As far as age is concerned, well, let’s just say that, for Tambe, age is just a number.

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