CHENNAI: If you are a hockey goalkeeper in India today, your only hope of making it to the national side rests on PR Sreejesh being injured or suffering from a loss of form. But Adrian D’Souza, who turned 32 in March, doesn’t want it (returning to the national team) that way.
“It’s a question for them (the selectors) to answer,” he says when the question on comeback is put forth. Given the best keeper after the national skipper is named ‘country mile’, the slot for reserve keeper is up for grabs. But D’Souza, a veteran at the international level, only wants to talk about Sreejesh. “He has to be mentioned at this stage because it’s only because of him that the role of a goalkeeper has been played up. He is great.”
The 32-year-old, who played for Air India against Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu in the opening encounter of the All India-MCC Murugappa Gold Cup on Thursday, was being modest. He is credited with one of the most important modern innovations — rushing out during penalty corners. Most keepers are happy to stand back but the Mumbai man made it a signature move when he was in the national team. Thoughts behind the move are fascinating. “You don’t have time to think (balls travel at speeds exceeding 100 kmph) so you just try and watch it as much as possible. Never ever watch the athlete as you might get beaten then.”
The conversation drifts towards his role as a commentator during the 2014 Hockey India League and he reveals a few differences between playing pundit and player. “In the box, you only analyse the game but when you are playing, you are reading the game as well as running around. That wears you down as a player. That’s why in a sport like this, lots of scores tend to change frequently.”
Lesser known facts
Credited with ‘rushing out’ technique during penalty corners.
Won the Asia Cup in 2007 in Chennai.
Tested positive for THC, a metabolite of marijuana, in 2012. Was banned for a year.