“I doubted my talent and was planning to quit cricket to work in Dubai,” said Basil Thampi, the youngster from Kerala selected for the three international T20s against Sri Lanka. Thampi is the fourth youngster from the state to wear the much-desired blue jersey.
The 24-year-old pacer made headlines recently when his efforts assured Kerala of a quarterfinal spot in the Ranji Trophy for the first time ever in history. However, this youngster has been performing for his side consistently. There was talk of him joining the Indian cricket squad for quite some time, but he says he was taken aback when he learnt of his selection.
“After my IPL stint, I knew it was only a matter of time before I made it to the national team … It’s every cricketer’s dream to don the blue team jersey … I thank god for giving me this opportunity, and what can I say? I was so surprised!” Thampi told TNM.
His entry into cricket could be considered late by Indian standards – he bowled with a proper cricket ball for the first time when he was 16 years old. But he has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 8 years.
“I started my cricket journey with tennis-ball matches, and later I played Under 17 matches. It was only after the Under 19 state championship that I began to take cricket more seriously.”
Currently, he is training with his state team for they are going to face Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals soon.
“The way the Kerala team is performing right now, I think we have a good chance of winning the competition … This team is not about individual performances; every single person contributes and the composition is great. I think this is the golden opportunity we were looking for and we will win this year.”
He trained under Glenn McGrath and M Senthilnathan at the MRF Pace Foundation, where world-class bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Mitchell Johnson have also trained.
“McGrath sir always said that with god’s blessing I have speed and I should never compromise that for swing … He always reiterated that every bowler is unique and speed is my forte.”
After bagging the coveted Emerging Player Award in the last IPL season, he attributes his confidence to the tutelage he received under McGrath and his seniors in the Gujarat Lions team.
“It’s because of the IPL that I’m playing in the Indian cricket team right now … That’s how people recognized me and that’s how my life changed. I will never forget the support offered by [Suresh] Raina bhai and the team management that let me play 12 out of 14 matches.”
He is confident about the cricketing future of Kerala as they are upgrading their facilities and providing holistic coaching to youngsters.
“Kerala has lot of cricket grounds and we have a good management right now, there are a lot of youngsters training in these new academy and facilities … I think we have a lot of opportunities right now and we should convert them soon.”