He turned towards the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium ground, took in the serene late afternoon setting, and smiled. It’s an arena S. Badrinath is all too familiar with.
“You need to play for the State side with passion. And the feeling has to come from within. When I batted for Tamil Nadu, I played as if my life depended on that innings,” said the former India cricketer here on Friday.
After a two-year stint with Vidarbha during which he led the unfancied side to two successive Ranji Trophy quarterfinals, Badrinath has decided to return to Tamil Nadu this season. This is significant news.
Extremely fit at 35, Badrinath believes he has a lot more to offer to State the cricket. “I still have the hunger for the game. But I want to contribute more than just my batting for Tamil Nadu. A job such as a player-cum-mentor is what I am looking for.”
TAMIL NADU’S MR. DEPENDABLE
Actually, the role would be ideal for Badrinath who for long was Tamil Nadu’s most dependable batsman. In 136 first class games, he has 9778 runs at 56.19.
These are extremely good numbers but they do not tell the complete story. Much of the respect for Badrinath stems from the fact that he made runs in tough conditions, steering the side out of trouble in difficult situations. “When I bat, people expect me to deliver under pressure.”
And someone like Badrinath was what Tamil Nadu desperately required last season when batting collapses were commonplace. “Batting is about temperament. You have to see the wicket, assess the conditions, and not play the strokes you cannot play on the pitch.”
Talking about the young Tamil Nadu batsmen, Badrinath said, “All of them are good shot-makers. But they need to learn the value of staying calm at the crease and grinding out the opposition attack. You got to see through spells. A bowler who is bowling well can only send down a specific number of overs but a batsman can bat for an entire day.”
Tamil Nadu requires a blend of experience and youth with someone such as Badrinath having the additional role of guiding the youngsters.
Badrinath can adapt to the shorter formats as well. He was a popular and successful batsman for Chennai Super Kings. And in his last Twenty20 match for India, against West Indies at Port of Spain in 2011, he was adjudged man of the match.
‘HAVE MORE TO OFFER TO TAMIL NADU’
A desire to give something back to his home state and spend more time with his young family in Chennai is what brought Badrinath back. “These days, I keep asking myself the tough questions. And the answer I get is that I have more to offer to Tamil Nadu.”
The Tamil Nadu cap remains his prized possession. “This is where I belong. If the State side needs me, I will be there for it,” he said.
Someone who has given so much to State cricket, still has fitness, the desire and the ability to contribute more to Tamil Nadu.
“You got to play with heart,” he says.
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