A Star Carved His Destiny


April heat then slowed down in Chinnappampatti, a small village west of Salem in Tamil Nadu. The lives of two very young and raw fast bowlers were to see a change. A lot of struggle had been coming past their way, but nothing did matter, except for the Yorkers. They found emancipation in this bowling tool, using it as a trajectory to build their path a decade later. One of these brothers, the elder one, T Natarajan, just 29, stood out to be regarded as the Yorker king in the IPL, 2020 edition.

This seemed nearly unfeasible for the brothers some nine years back. One of them thought of ending up as a weaver and the other helped his father in a tea shack. But their destinies were meant to witness a bend. It was only then when a failed district level player spotted Natarajan bowl and did not waste any time further before he launched him in Tamil Nadu Cricket Association League. And from there, he just rose exorbitantly to the state team, to the TNPL, and finally to the IPL where KXIP shelled almost INR 3crores to acquire him. It was just in 2017 where he found himself a millionaire, within only 5 years. 2018 saw SRH getting Natarajan on board for INR 40lakhs and he had been with them since then.

All this fame had never made him forget his old friend who still used to be a meagre daily wager back in the village. At times Periyaswamy, his brother, encountered emotional breakdowns to have played by his brother, his idol in local cricket tournaments. Although a lot pessimistic, with constant practice at the Natarajan academy, and with the help of his brother, he could pull out a contract in the TNCA.

The star here, like most other IPL players dream of playing for the nation. Playing 11 might seem a dream achievable to few, but its uncertainty cannot be paved away. IPL had always been known to change the fates of those talents coming out of rags. But Natarajan’s story only broadens the net for the league to reach out to more such deserving ones. And only a few such success stories made it possible for boys from Shrirampur, Ranchi, Jalandhar, Najafgarh to compete with big city boys.

Down this line, Natarajan realizes he could have easily been glossed over if not A Jayprakash had been with him. His mentor could never progress beyond district cricket but made sure Natarajan did. It was JP who made him bowl his first Yorker in a leather ball, handed him over a pair of cricket shoes and a train ticket to Chennai. And within two years, Natarajan saw himself bowling among Murali Vijay, R Ashwin, and others.

He built his academy deep inside the village for kids to come and learn for free. He comes there often, helping the kids learn, and he might sometimes speak to them till late in the evening. Despite this fame, he always holds himself close to his roots. Supporting his family, and the village, he could be seen enjoying soulful old melodies that he always loved.

He recalls his first few months in the academy not being very smooth. The intense regime and practices made him unlearn his previous methods. But that had only made him sharper and re-energized him for the IPL selection. He might have bowled even more than 13,000 deliveries for his new action to set in and clinch his international fame.

This might seem a dream narration, as for Natarajan too; he is still busy writing more. Although he earned quite a fame, he still eyes for one spot in playing 11 for India.


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