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Vol. XXVIII No. 15, November 16-30, 2018

A new millennium batsman retires

by Bhaskeran Thomas

Page 8S. Badrinath

He was certainly a batsman of the new millennium. He was blessed with immense talent and he put that to effective scoring runs in tons for his state, Tamil Nadu. Yet, he did not get more than a decade oportunities to play for the country.

Subramaniam Badrinath was one of the most elegant middle-order batsmen that Tamil Nadu was blessed with and was often the fulcrum of the State team’s batting. A day after his 38th birthday, former India batsman and former Tamil Nadu captain, Badrinath announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with immediate effect, ending a domestic career that started in 2000.

Actually, Badrinath was a good enough off-spinner and if he had taken that seriously, he would’ve been ideal for a middle order slot in the Indian team for limited overs cricket. Strangely, he did not make of this talent as much as many of us well-wishers could have liked.

After becoming the 47th Indian to 10,000 first-class runs in November 2016 – while captaining Hyderabad as a professional – he opted out of the entire 2017-18 first-class season in order to spend time with his family.

Badrinath did contemplate retirement from then on, more so after taking up a coaching role with Karaikudi Kaalai in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) this year. Two weeks after the end of the TNPL, Badrinath confirmed he was hanging up his boots.

“Thirty out of 38 years of my life were in cricket and it has gone ever so fast, and now I”m retiring from playing cricket in any form” he said. “This certainly hasn’t been an easy decision to be honest and I”ve been pondering over it ([for a while)… Somehow my hand didn’t go into penning the [retirement] letter over the last year. It was very difficult for me, but having turned 38 yesterday, I”ve decided that, it’s the right time to make the call. I”ve played 17 years as a professional and god has been very, very kind.”

Badrinath finished as the sixth-highest scorer in the Ranji Trophy, with 7850 runs, a big chunk of which came in a 14-season association with Tamil Nadu that began in 2000-01. He was the mainstay of the Tamil Nadu sides that reached the Ranji Trophy finals in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2011-12. His career-best 250 against Mumbai at Bandra Kurla Complex led a stellar turnaround for Tamil Nadu in 2009. After Tamil Nadu had been reduced to 50 for 5 before lunch on day one, Badrinath took them to 501 and they subsequently took first-innings lead.

An elbow injury to Sachin Tendulkar had opened up a spot for an One-day International debut for Badrinath against Sri Lanka in 2008 in Dambulla, where he impressed immediately, guiding India home with an unbeaten 27 in a low-scoring match. However, he made only nine international appearances across formats after that, the last being an ODI against West Indies in North Sound in 2011.

When asked if he would have got a longer run with the national team in an era that didn’t have Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman in the middle order, Badrinath said: “I have no regrets and I couldn’t have done anything differently. You can only play Test cricket and become a better batsman. You can never face that kind of a quality attack in India – Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or James Anderson. Only when you get a decent run in Test cricket, you know what you can work on. But, no regrets at all.”

Badrinath found success with Chennai Super Kings in. IPL 2011, making 396 runs in 13 innings as a floater, including five fifties and six not-outs, at an average of 56.57 and strike-rate of 127. All in all, he played 114 games for CSK between 2008. and 2013, scoring 1667 runs and winning back-to-back IPL titles with them in 2010 and 2011.

“People never even thought I could play T20 cricket,” he said. “To play the amount of games I played for CSK was phenomenal and I went on to play T-20 cricket for India as well. If you had asked me if I would have played T20s for India in 2004-05, I would not have dreamt of it at all.”

After moving out of Tamil Nadu in 2014, he mentored youngVidarbha and Hyderabad, and led both teams to the Ranji knockouts – (Courtesy: Straight Bat.)

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