T Natarajan’s odds-defying journey from a little-known village in Tamil Nadu to representing India at the highest level is one of the greatest feel-good and inspiring stories in recent times.
Natarajan has impinged himself as the latest sensation in Indian cricket courtesy of his brilliant exploits during his maiden outing for the Men in Blue in Australia. The southpaw finished as the leading wicket-taker for India in the three-match T20I series [6 wickets] and his skills and temperament have earned him huge praise from fans as well as former and current cricketers.
For Natarajan, this is a fitting reward for all the hardships that he has faced during his career. And, even in this moment of celebration, his mind wanders to that fateful day of 2015 when he was supposed to make his Ranji Trophy debut for Tamil Nadu.
What was expected to be a dream day for the southpaw, quickly turned into a nightmare after he was called for chucking. Natarajan, to this day, cannot forget the incident
”I can never forget the moment that I was reported for a suspect action. I had to struggle for a whole year after that,” Natarajan had recently said.
The last few months have been surreal. My maiden outing with #TeamIndia and we won the T20I series. A dream come true moment made special by the champion bunch. I thank my teammates for their constant support and encouragement. Thank you everyone for your love & support ? pic.twitter.com/o2yCP4RVU0
— Natarajan (@Natarajan_91) December 9, 2020
‘We were perhaps unknowingly preparing him for international cricket’- Sunil Subramaniam on T Natarajan
Natarajan, however, did not bow down to adversity. He spent the next 12-15 months working on remodeling his action from scratch under the tutelage of former Tamil Nadu left-arm spinner Sunil Subramaniam, who was leading the TNCA at the time.
Sunil Subramaniam recently told TOI the issue that Natarajan was facing and how he and his team went about helping him remove the chink with a well-designed process. He also revealed that Natarajan would bowl close to 13000 deliveries from public glare.
“Natarajan’s issue was that at the point of loading, his bowling arm was going away from the body instead of loading close to the chin (which is considered ideal). Once the bowling arm starts going away, the rotation means that the hand doesn’t move like a pulley in a straight line when it comes down at the time of front-foot landing. When that is the case, there is likely to be a slight flexion,” Sunil Subramaniam told TOI.
”We went step by step and focused on each aspect of his bowling action. We started with just the run-up, then made him do a 2-step drill where he loads under the chin and finishes his action. This went on for a couple of months. Later, he began bowling with just a stump to target and then gradually began bowling to batsmen. It was a long and rigorous process. It was a trial by fire, but in hindsight, we were perhaps unknowingly preparing him for international cricket,” he added.