Syed Kirmani, a vital member of the 1983 Cricket World Cup champions from India, shared his knowledge and wisdom with many aspiring cricketers during a visit to the DreamCricket Academy on Sunday in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The former Indian wicketkeeper, who claimed 198 dismissals in his 88-Test career from 1976 to 1986, spent time engaging with junior players during a coaching session at the indoor academy, giving tips on batting, bowling and wicketkeeping before taking pictures and signing autographs for those in attendance.
“This game has given me everything and it was a great way of life for me,” Kirmani told the DreamCricket Academy members during a question and answer session.
Image (right) - Syed Kirmani at the DreamCricket Academy in Hillsborough, N.J. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Kirmani became the latest big name in cricket to spend time with young American cricketers at the DreamCricket Academy, whose guests since its founding in 2008 have included Ian Pont, K. Bharath Kumar, Chetan Chauhan, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Lance Gibbs and Sunil Gavaskar. Kirmani encouraged all the young players to aim high and not be afraid of challenges on or off the field.
“I had no fear facing the fastest bowlers of our time,” Kirmani said. “When you fear anything, you will not be successful. Whatever happens will happen so be positive. If he is the fastest bowler, I have got the bat. I’ll hit him. If he can knock me, I can also knock him. That is the approach I had. That’s the kind of feeling I always had. The most fearful thing, I have always taken it as a challenge and that brought the best out of me. So what if he’s the world’s best spinner. So what if he’s the fastest bowler in the world. I can also beat him.”
“That should be the feeling in whatever. All right if he’s number one in the class. If he’s number one, I’ll beat him. That’s how you kids have got to think about it. You’ve got to be number one in wherever you are. You’ve got to tell yourself that yes, if he’s a brilliant student I’ll be better than him. If he’s a rank holder, I’ll do better than him. If he’s a better guy than me, I’ll be the leader of the class. That should be the positive thing. That should be your aims. That should be your goals in whatever you want to become.”
Towards the end of the coaching session, Kirmani talked about key areas for cricketers to focus on in order to strengthen their games. He also took aside the wicketkeepers in the group to give tips on how to improve their footwork and body positioning particularly when it comes to standing up to the stumps for spin bowlers. Kirmani kept wicket during much of his career to India’s famed spin quartet of Bishan Singh Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.
Image (above) - Former Indian wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani shares some footwork techniques with a junior wicketkeeper at the DreamCricket Academy in Hillsborough, N.J. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
“It was our privilege to host Padma Shri Syed Kirmani, an iconic cricketer from the winning 1983 World Cup team,” Kranthi Bayya, CEO of DreamCricket, said. “DreamCricket Academy youth and parents enjoyed his many anecdotes and eagerly took in pointers during the coaching session he oversaw along with DreamCricket coaches Earl Daley and Delkash.”
Since 2008, DreamCricket Academy has introduced cricket to hundreds of boys and girls with several junior players going on to represent USA’s junior national teams.