Batman returns: Top stars chase this willow wonder for run riot - The New Indian Express

Batman returns: Top stars chase this willow wonder for run riot

Published: 30th October 2012 11:53 AM

Last Updated: 30th October 2012 11:53 AM

Ram Bhandari’s saga of success is nothing but a story from rags to riches. Bhandariji, as he is  popularly known, fled from Bihar to Bangalore in 1979. It was a combination of sheer hard work and a bit of luck that made him what he is today: Someone to whom national and international cricketers come running to get their bats repaired.

A story of struggle for survival, Bhandari as a youngster, started his career as a stunt man after completing a course in Vijaya Film Institute. Then he chose to work as a  driver for film producer Shailendra Babu and soon became  maintenance  in-charge for a multi-storey commercial complex in Gandhinagar.

It was around this time that Bhandari, to support his family, started repairing bats of  local cricket players. “My grandfather was a carpenter and I carefully observed his techniques of handling wood. I started repairing the broken bats of boys playing gulley cricket. But soon, my fame increased and I started getting orders to make bats or repair bats from cricket players across the city. Today cricket players across the globe get their bats repaired by me.”

From masters of the game to those known as blasters, all have brought their bats to be examined by Bhandari. Cricketers like Chris Galye, Ricky Ponting, Tilakaratne Dilshan, Luke Wright are some of them in this long list.

Back home, ‘Bhandarji’ as he is called by members of Indian cricket team, has showed his skills on the bats of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virendar Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir besides other top cricketers.

Bhandariji fondly remembers that it was Rahul Dravid, the Wall of Indian Cricket,  who introduced him to the world of international cricket. When asked to share some memorable incidents, Bhandari said: “This was the time when I met Chanderpaul, over three years ago, in Bangalore. He invited me to his hotel room to repair his bat. While I was giving a new look to his bat, he served me food and after the lunch was over, he himself cleared the plates. I was touched by his hospitality and  humbleness which still remains fresh in my mind.”

Bhandari was reluctant to reveal the secret charms he puts in a bat. When asked, he said: “I work on all sorts of bats and deal with the problems of the bat, thick on the edges, those which lack curve and those with problems with the grip etc. Some players prefer to carry heavy bats on field while others prefer to carry light-weight bats. I repair bats depending on the preferences of the batsmen. The most difficult job is to bring in some balance into a bat while repairing it.”

But that does not mean that Bhandari is just another businessman. Speaking about his passion for the game, he said he has never missed an opportunity to watch cricket matches held in the city. He said: “A pass will be sent to me by those whose bats I have repaired. I have also visited other parts of the country along with the team. But I have never gone on an international trip. Mostly, the bats are sent to National Cricket Academy by the players and I repair them.”

It is no surprise that his sons are also cricket worshippers. Narendra Bhandari, plays for under 19 inter-zonal cricket team as a wicket keeper and batsman while Dasharath Bhandari plays in under 16 tournaments as bowler and batsman.

“I would not like any star cricketer to promote my sons. I want to see my sons achieving success on their own. I want them to succeed in their field of passion and hope that best academies invite them,”  he said.

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