Meet ‘Bob Marley’ of Indian cricket

On Friday, Techi Doria scripted history by becoming the first player from Arunachal Pradesh to score a century in List A cricket. But it is his dreadlocks that has been getting all the attention...

Arunachal Pradesh's Techi Doria scored a century against Sikkim in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match .   -  Special Arrangement

Sauntering out on to the field with long, braided hair, the youngster could easily be mistaken for a reggae musician. Only, instead of a guitar, this ‘rockstar’ wields a willow to score.

Meet Techi Doria, the ‘Bob Marley’ of Indian cricket.

Stepping into the List A cricketing circuit for the first time, the 24-year-old Arunachal Pradesh all-rounder scripted history by becoming the first player from the region to score a century at this level. He achieved the feat against Sikkim in a Vijay Hazare Trophy fixture on Friday.

READ: Doria's century helps Arunachal Pradesh register second win

But more than that, his dreadlocks — unusual in India’s mainstream cricket — has become the talking point.

“Many people think that I visit hair experts to get it designed, but the truth is, I have had braids ever since childhood. They are natural,” Doria tells Sportstar. Doria recollects getting bullied because of the hairstyle in school. “People would often make fun of me in school and there was a time when I made it a point to wear cap every time I stepped out. This was an attempt to hide my hair,” he says.

Arunachal Pradesh all-rounder Techi Doria's Marley hair has caught the attention of the cricket world.   -  Special Arrangement

 

A few years later, when he started playing club cricket, his team-mates in Itanagar began calling him ‘Bob Marley’. Doria, in fact, hadn’t an inkling of who Marley was. “Sab bolte the, woh dekho Bob Marley jaa raha hai. (Everyone would say, look, that’s Bob Marley). But I had no clue who he was. So, one day, I searched on the Internet and came to know to about him,” Doria says. “But I must admit that after seeing his braids, my fears were gone,” he adds.

Slowly, the ‘Bob Marley’ of Itanagar fell in love with his hair. “Even now, as I am playing the Vijay Hazare Trophy, many players from other teams are curious about my hair and I tell them that it’s naturally grown,” he laughs.

At the Motibagh Stadium in Vadodara, the Sikkim players too were left amused on Friday, when they saw Arunachal Pradesh’s opening batsman Doria walking out to bat. “I have learnt to take things in my stride. My only aim at the moment is to play cricket for the state and encourage others,” Doria, who studies sociology at a college in Itanagar, says.

This Marley too tried his hand at performing arts.

A few years back, he got together with a few friends and started a street dance group in Itanagar. The quaint hill town had not seen a street show then and those youngsters — all high school students then — introduced the city to their dance troupe ‘Bboyzlee’. “None of us had any formal training. We picked up the dance steps by watching videos on YouTube. Our troupe became quite popular among youngsters,” Doria says.

As the teams from the North-East are back in the national fold, Techi Doria has set his sights on bigger targets.   -  Special Arrangement

 

He, however, parted ways with the group to focus on cricket. “I have always admired Sachin Tendulkar and his principles. I had to leave dance because I would not have been able to play cricket otherwise,” he says.

On his first brush with cricket, Doria says: “My elder brother would play cricket in the basti and after watching him play, I also started taking the game seriously. That’s how it all started”.

Doria made it to the junior-level state team and even featured in the BCCI tournaments a few years back, but with the state not active at the national level, he had almost given up the sport. But now, as the teams from the North-East are back in the fold, Doria has dreams in his eyes. “I do not want to be popular but I just want to play cricket for the state. Maybe my journey will help more youngsters take the sport seriously,” Doria says.

Coming from a state which has poor infrastructure and no ground to train, Doria, however, believes that things will fall in place soon.

“I want to spread the game among the youngsters, so that they can also live their dreams,” he says. In Marley’s words, ‘We jammin’, I wanna jam it with you.’