Rejected by Kerala, Deepak Murali finds feet in Kuwait

The 28-year-old is now looking forward to his new assignment and is relishing the opportunity to work with Herschelle Gibbs.

Deepak Murali with Kuwait coach Herschelle Gibbs.   -  Special Arrangement

Deepak Murali was a bit disappointed when the Kuwait cricket team for the ICC World Cup T20 qualifiers was announced early this week. Deepak, a former member of the Kerala under-25 team and who has been playing club cricket in Kuwait since 2015, missed selection by a whisker. For being eligible for selection an expat has to complete three years of residence in Kuwait but at the time of selection Deepak had only completed two years and eleven months of residence and was ineligible.

However, the disappointment of not finding a place in the team was partially erased when he was selected as the fitness trainer-cum-fielding coach of the Kuwait cricket team that will take part in the ICC World T20 qualifiers in Kuwait.

Deepak is following the footsteps of his mentor and coach Biju George who had earlier coached the Kuwait national team. The 28-year-old is now looking forward to his new assignment and is relishing the opportunity to work with Herschelle Gibbs, the former South African opener, who is the coach of Kuwait cricket team.

"Yes I felt sad when I missed selection by one month. I run a cricket academy, 22 yards, here and has experience of working with good trainers. The director of domestic cricket Rishi D Jayan and director of cricket Sajid know me and my work and Sajid himself appointed me. The players are happy and have responded well to my drills in the camp," said Deepak.

Deepak started playing cricket at the age of 13 for Loyola Cricket Academy here and represented the Kerala under-17, under-19, and under-25 squads. He even played Buchi Babu trophy for Kerala for two years under Sony Cheruvathur but somehow was never selected for Ranji Trophy team.

A shoulder injury which came at the wrong time forced him out of the game for two years. While he was recovering from the injury, Deepak came to help Biju George at the SAI coaching centre at Medical College and which triggered his interest in coaching.

Disappointed at being overlooked for Ranji Trophy and not finding a job, Deepak's cricket career got a fresh lease of life when Biju George referred his name to Petrofac which was one of the top clubs in Kuwait. Deepak played for the club and helped it to win the Kuwait league and has not looked back since then.

Deepak has completed the ACC coaching certificate and will be doing the ICC level I coaching in Dubai next month. Deepak feels Kuwait has good chance to qualify for the next stage of the tournament and he is happy that he will be eligible for selection for the next tournament which Kuwait plays.