Early on Tuesday morning, a TV screen was set up in the middle of the common market in the village of Panni Wala Morrika near Sirsa, Haryana. The location was the only place large enough for the hamlet’s 2,000-odd population to watch it’s most famous resident on the biggest day of his life so far. Barinder Sran, who was making his international debut for the Indian team, in the series opener against Australia, would not disappoint the gathered crowd either. Even though the Indian team lost the match, Sran’s bowling figures of 3 for 56 runs would be remembered by the villagers for long.
“It has been like a festival in our village since early morning today,” says Sran’s 57-year old father Balbir Singh Sran. “For the last one month, the villagers have been organising Akhand Path (prayers) at the village Gurdwara turn by turn for Barinder’s success and many of us saw the match on the LCD Screen in the market.
His friends had been busy since last night setting it up. Although the Indian team lost, we cheered every time Barinder took a wicket and he has made us all proud. Due to his training, we have not spend much time with us. Par aaj TV te dekh ke lagya asi usde kareeb hi han. (But today as we saw him on TV, we felt as if we are near him),” shared Balbir Singh Sran, a small-time farmer in the village.
The journey from Panni Wala Morrika to Perth has been a long road for Sran. He began his sporting career as a boxer at Bhiwani Boxing Club before he switched to cricket at the Sirsa Cricket Stadium. He trained for just a couple of weeks before he gave the trials for Kings XI Punjab in 2009 and played in the Kings Cup — the developmental tournament organised by that IPL outfit. Sran was eventually picked by the Punjab Ranji team and made his first class debut against Orissa in 2011. He has grown from strength to strength since then and a haul of 16 wickets in this year’s Ranji Trophy and 14 wickets in Vijay Hazare Trophy, catapulted him into the Indian team for the series against Australia.
“He called us in the morning before the match and told me about his debut. It was an emotional moment for me as a mother as the first thing he said was that he is missing home food. Whenever he is at home, he asks for Gur ki Churi and does not eat vegetables much. But at cricket training, he has to eat lots of vegetables. Sometimes he takes Gur from home also. Some boys from our village also live in Australia and they also went to see the match in Perth and met him after the match. When he started boxing initially, I would always be worried about injury. Sometimes, he would also feel low. Par Aaj de din Barinder layi ek navi shuruat hai. (Today is a start of new innings for Barinder),” said Barinder’s mother 51-year-old Jaspreet Kaur.
Her brother’s maiden wicket on his international debut was a moment to rejoice for Rupinder Kaur as well. Barinder’s 21-year-old sister, who is studying Master of Arts through correspondence, couldn’t focus entirely on the match, however. During Tuesday’s match telecast, she was also kept busy explaining cricket’s rules to the old folk in the village.
“Before the tour, Barinder paji asked me what to bring back from Australia. And I told him to take as many wickets he can during this series. If he had continued with boxing, medals in Asian games or Olympics would have been his dream. And today’s wickets were like medals to him. Some of his friends, who are boxers, also called my father and said they were also watching the match. It was like watching a match of World Cup for us,” says Kaur.