The wear and tear of Sunil Narine
There you go, yet another time Sunil Narine was twirling the ball in his hand and strategizing the release to catch the batsman napping. It didn’t faze him that yet again, he was tantalizingly standing on the verge of getting reported for a suspect action and inflicting yet another dent in his career endeavor.
The fans agonizingly waited in anticipation of yet another one-man show that took the world off its feet during IPL 2012, when he was crawling his way into taking giant strides to supremacy. Though he didn’t master out a wicket, he was miserly enough to keep the likes of Eoin Morgan on their toes.
If conceding runs at less than seven runs per over seems to be rusty, then one can imagine the standards he set for himself during the course of a fairy-tale journey carved in no time.
He made Sourav Ganguly, the demigod of countering spin, hustle and bustle like a cat on a hot tin roof. The memories of the encounter between Pune Warriors India and Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 will remain etched in the mind for a long time.
Also read: 9 mystery spinners through the ages
Champions League - a curse for the big honchos of Cricket, but panned out to be a blessing for the players. Sunil Narine’s coronation to the world was not the IPL, but the CL-T20 in 2011. When Trinidad & Tobago handsomely rear-guarded a paltry score against a Chennai Super Kings batting line-up crowded with blazing guns, at the corner of the mind one knew that there was some uniqueness to the bowling.
Getting the spinners operating at a time when batsmen are fuming to pick the bones out of every delivery was once equivalent to knowingly letting the feet in a manhole. The strange irony was that he successfully shouldered every mantle, churning out two to three overs of sheer domination at the death.
After sweating it out in the domestic arena for three years, Narine deservingly earned his place. But, mercilessly enough his tenure is being cut short, at least for the time being. He isn’t getting any younger which is making things more tumultuous for the man from Trinidad & Tobago.
People can’t be blamed for depicting the downfall of Narine in the planet of technical analytics. The battle between finger spinners and the 15-degree rule saw no love lost, making it a hard-fought, yet gracefully crafted career.
15-degree rule, a legitimate, yet an innocuous regulation acting as the thorn in the flesh in Narine’s priceless repertoire. Victimized as many as two times, Narine kept storming back only to stamp his authority on the batsmen. Such was his hegemony that even after the daunting setbacks, he was perched handsomely on the top of the ICC Rankings for T-20 bowlers before the T-20 carnival in India.
The bashing part wasn’t left unturned by the public too, labelling him as a one-season wonder.
It’s pretty inevitable to not get reduced in guile and trajectory after one gets his action operated and Narine could easily have been pardoned for not hitting his straps right from the word go. Instead, he decided to record his career-best ODI figures against South Africa. The match after that, versus Australia, he was handed over the new-ball.
One asks a Shane Warne to rip a ball from outside the leg stump ending up a foot outside the off-stump after coming back from an injury and he does it as if he is playing non-stop cricket for an eternity. Narine’s record shouldn’t be compared to Warne’s, but it’s the indefatigable ranger in Narine, alike Warne’s, that never ceases to amaze people.
After going through every possible hurdle, it’s high time that Narine is rightfully given his due by the ICC. He has been deprived of a place in the national squad for two of the prestigious tournaments - the 2015 World Cup and the T-20 World Cup 2016. Attributed by his wearing and tearing, he was rarely being in contention for a Test Cap.
Test Cricket in the Caribbean is currently being strangled by mayhem for the last couple of years. Narine’s injection is in dire requisite for a much-needed impetus to the Test team.
The scars look far more beautiful if they are succeeded by a conquest. It’s the champion in him that didn’t let hurdles deter him from going for glory. Talking about glory, he dished out a wicket-maiden in a super over in the Caribbean Premier League, with five balls evading the swinging bat with absolute ease.
Tall and lanky fast bowlers were the top of the mind recall for West Indies bowling. Out of nowhere he has turned upside down the actual picture of their bowling.
It’s no less than a treat watching him bowl, more so if one’s present at the ground. The umpires are the luckiest of them all. Zeroing in on every incident inside the playing arena may be the primary duty of an on-field umpire, but one can’t deny that they secure the best place in the house and are worth envying.
Apart from Cricket, his family life was never a smooth one. A son of a taxi driver and a restaurant worker, Narine was never blessed with a luxurious lifestyle. Yet, stitched torn pads and immense support made it a gleeful upbringing for Narine.
Such was the backing that he was named after the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, someone who always considered Trinidad to be his second home. His father’s demise in April 2016 added to the woes of his personal self in addition to the bowling action rehabilitations. Yet, they were never vicious enough to be detrimental in his career.
2016 is entering into its second half. May be with the ongoing tri-series, Narine’s career has entered into its better half - a half, which not only Narine will cherish, but his admirers will bow down to, a half, which presents an ever more matured and versatile Sunil Narine and also a bowler who dictates terms in all the three formats of the game.