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After shedding kilos,Binny adds weight to scorecards

Fifties from Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane brought Rajasthan Royals to the cusp of victory while chasing 178 versus Pune Warriors

Written by Nihal Koshie | New Delhi |
May 7, 2013 1:12:00 am

Fifties from Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane brought Rajasthan Royals to the cusp of victory while chasing 178 versus Pune Warriors on Sunday night. But the finishing touches to a well-crafted chase was given by all-rounder Stuart Binny,who delivered in the crunch with an unbeaten 32 off 13 balls.

While the T20 format allows the attacking all-rounder to play his natural game,Binny,28,has found a second wind only after adopting a patient approach to batting,improving his fitness regimen and tweaking his bowling run-up on the advice of his father — World Cup winner and current national selector Roger Binny.

Sunil Gavaskar’s comment on air that it was tougher to lift baby Stuart than the 28-year-old version isn’t too far away from the truth,Stuart said in a lighter vein. “I lost eight kilograms before the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy season and have been able to maintain my fitness since then. This has helped me bowl,bat and field better.” This was his build-up to the season that saw him score 742 runs and take 25 wickets.

It was during the cooling period under the BCCI’s amnesty scheme for ICL players that the Karnataka cricketer found time to reflect on his modest first-class career that had lasted about 20 games. One that didn’t contain either a century or a 10-wicket match haul — essential for being considered a top all-rounder.

“Before coming back into the BCCI fold,I thought about my future as a cricketer. I decided to start from scratch,” Binny said about the early months of 2010. “Looking back,it took me about five seasons to find my feet in Ranji Trophy cricket. It required a little maturity on my part,with minor changes to technique and also hard work,” Binny added.

Putting in the yards

The hardwork Binny is talking about involved facing both the new and old ball at nets,for to be a good number six,he had to be adept at facing conventional and non-conventional swing. Also instead of trying to play six ‘scoring shots’ in an over,Binny toned down his aggressive approach. “I think maturity comes with experience. Earlier,I would look to attack always but now I am prepared to wait for the bad balls and out-think the bowler,” he added.

Binny attributes his success as a Royals finisher to a similar approach. He meant,“You can’t hit every ball for a four or a six in the IPL because you are facing quality bowlers. At times you have to try and take twos and threes off a particular bowler and try and hit the others over the ropes.”

Over 1,700 runs in Ranji Trophy alone,including his maiden century,and nearly fifty wickets,that also contained his first 10-wicket haul,over the past three seasons and winning the BCCI’s best all-rounder award is an indication of the progress he has made in his second stint as a first-class cricketer post the ICL.

It also helped that Karnataka were not always at full-strength as medium pacers R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun were either playing for India or were injured. Instead of bowling an average of six overs in a first class game,Stuart was bowling up to 25.

Karnataka’s coach from the 2011-12 season K Jeshwanth believes that Stuart benefited from being able to emerge from the shadow of his father without being worried about comparisons.

“Two seasons ago Stuart realised that he could become a much better player than what he was. I hope he continues to work hard even after his success in the IPL and retains the hunger to improve because he still hasn’t reached his full potential,” Jeshwanth said.

From Roger,with love

So did Binny senior have any role to play in his second coming? “Yes. He told me that I need to run in faster and hit the deck harder. I didn’t change my action. But by adding momentum to my run-up,I am able to swing the ball more these days,” he said,elaborating on his bowling skills. “Having a Test cricketer as a father is helpful because he has seen the ups and downs. At times it was frustrating when I was not doing well because people expected me to do well because I was a former cricketer’s son. But my father only told me to go and enjoy the game and work hard.”

While Roger helped set Stuart’s basics right on the field,changes that helped him lead his state too,his new life allowed him relax off it.

“I got married 8 months ago (to TV presenter Mayanti Langer). After that I got picked for the Irani and Challenger squads. Things have only looked up since,” he laughed. “When you get married you tend to become more responsible and that also is reflected in your game.”

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