The cricketing world has been blessed with a fair share of twins. To begin with there were the Shevills (Fernie and Irene), then came the Rippons (Dudley and Sydney), the Dentons (Billy and Jack), the Matambanadzos (Everton and Darlington), the Signals (Liz and Rose), the Bedsers (Alec and Eric), the Blackwells (Alex and Kate), the Knights (Kyshona and Kycia), the Mohammads (Anisa and Alisa), the Marshalls (James and Hamish) and the most famous of them all: the Waughs (Steve and Mark). All of them either played first-class cricket or went on to represent their country together.
After years of wait, Indian cricket too got its first twin pair: Baba Aparajith and Baba Indrajith. The fame came rather easily for the former who made his Ranji debut and that too for a strong team like Tamil Nadu which features many international players like Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik at the age of just 17-years. The very next year he found himself a part of India’s U-19 team that won the World Cup under the captaincy of Unmukt Chand.
Baba Aparajith was the star performer in that tournament. The young lad was awarded two back-to-back Man-of-the-Match trophies in the quarter-final and semi-final against the Pakistan and New Zealand respectively. Soon after the tournament, he was picked by MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. On the other hand, the road wasn’t that easy for Indrajith. He had to go through the grind for years in the domestic circuit before getting some recognition.
Six years later, both brothers stand at the same point in their careers. Aparajith wasn’t given a single game by CSK for four years. What’s worse is that when the side was dissolved, he was signed by Rising Pune Supergiant. Yes, the same team which had MS Dhoni as its captain and Stephen Fleming as its coach. Result? He hasn’t got a match in last two years either.
Meanwhile, Indrajith continued to sweat it out for Tamil Nadu in the domestic tournaments. The hard work finally paid off when the 23-year-old finally had his big moment as he scored a double century on his Duleep Trophy debut on Thursday.
Indrajith who hammered his way to 200 runs from 280 balls, added 178 runs for the last wicket with Vijay Gohli showing some phenomenal level of resilience. Once again the Baba brothers are back in the news and the question remains, why neither of them has been given a chance to play for India yet.
Last year when Baba Aparajith had smashed 118 runs in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, Dean Jones said, “Indian selectors, IPL scouts have a look at this kid. He has to be a part of your plans. God, AB de Villiers would be happy with that knock. One of the best knocks I have seen in T20 cricket.” This coming from a man who has witnessed many brilliant innings in so many different leagues is indeed a big deal.
What was special? Aparajith’s team was chasing a total of 166 and he himself scored 118 runs out of those! Yet, nothing has changed. No IPL games for either of them.
What is the problem? Well, it’s tough to tell. They may not have the big hitting abilities of Kieron Pollard or David Warner, but if selectors have learned anything from the success of someone like Hashim Amla or even Virat Kohli, who play with a straight bat and yet have been highly successful, they should know that smashing the ball to farthest reaches of the ground is not the ideal thing to base selections on. Or perhaps, it’s because neither one has a tattoo etched onto their skin or maybe it’s because they don’t have a flashy lifestyle as some of the other cricketers of their generation!
At 23, the Baba twins have a lot of time on their part and sooner or later the opportunity will come their way. But, when India has seen players like Amol Mazumdar who never made it despite scoring tons of runs in domestic cricket, the thought is sometimes scary.