KOZHIKODE: Every day, by 5.30pm, 12-year-old A R Madhavan wraps up his virtual class at home and rushes to put on his cricket gear. He steps out of the house soon, adjusting his gloves and holding his bat, and walks towards coach Veerendra Kumar. After a short warm-up, he treads a few steps further, takes his guard in front of the wicket. And coaching begins — right in the courtyard of his home!
This became possible because Madhavan's parents went that extra mile to fulfill their son's passion for cricket. They spent Rs 70,000 to install detachable cricket 'nets' in front of their house. They also arranged a coach for personalised training. The youngster is bowled over by his parents' thoughtful gesture. "Wherever I strike the ball, it stays within the nets," he says, excitedly.
Madhavan, who likes to play as a top-order batsman and a medium-pace bowler, was a member of the Kozhikode district under-14 cricket team last season. "We waited till June for the COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted. But when we realised that restrictions for children may be postponed, we invested in the facility. His practice began last week," says his father Anoop Gangadharan, a writer and social activist.
His mother, Rekha Das is an advocate. "I was afraid if he would lose touch with the game due to the current situation and we didn't have to think twice to make the investment," she said.
His coach, Veerendra Kumar of Lamir Cricket Academy, popular in the city for nurturing young talent, ensures intense training for three hours. "There is no doubt that Madhavan has a bright future in cricket. He was in the reserves in the Under-14 district team at the age of 10 and at 11, he played as top-order batter for the district. His performance against much older players in various league matches shows his capacity. His batting average stands at above 40 in club matches," he said.
"The support provided by the parents such as setting up this net could go a long way in building a promising career for the young talent," said Veerendra.
"To save time, we have bought 60 synthetic balls and he faces 300-400 balls daily," says Anoop who has also fixed floodlights for the purpose.
Madhavan's schedule is jam-packed. Early in the morning, he attends fitness training online, followed by academic activities and batting coaching in the evening. But the area is not large enough for him to practise bowling.
"The floor is also not suitable for a proper run-up," says Anoop.
He plans to prepare a concrete-floored pitch in his backyard to enable practice with a real cricket ball. The current practice area is designed in such a way that it can be detached and relocated within an hour.
"I practise hard. I dream of playing for Kerala in the near future," says Madhavan, with a glint in his eyes.