Recalls days of hope and optimism under Lillee’s tutelage
Subroto Banerjee has fond memories of the MRF Pace Foundation in its early days and pace legend Dennis Lillee.
“Those were the days. I enjoyed every bit of it. There were so many young pacemen, so much hope and optimism. And, Lillee was always around to guide and inspire you,” the former India seamer told
A paceman with a fluid semi side-on release who got the ball to seam both ways and whose mantra was to “bowl smart,” Subroto made an immediate impact on his Test debut in Sydney.
“I had Geoff Marsh bowled by an in-swinger and then dismissed Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh with away-going deliveries,” he recollected.
Yet, despite his three for 47 off 18 impressive overs, Subroto never figured in another Test for India.
“Till today, I don’t know the reason. I later went on India’s historic maiden tour of South Africa but never got to play my second Test.”
He had his moments in the ODIs, though. These included Brian Lara’s prized scalp in the dramatic tied match of the Benson & Hedges series in Perth and Graeme Hick’s wicket and a blistering late onslaught with the bat against England in the 1992 World Cup humdinger.
“I was striking the ball well but some panic running between the wickets cost us the match,” he remembered ruefully.
These days he is coaching Bihar after a successful stint as a bowling coach with Vidarbha that saw the side triumphing in the Ranji Trophy for the first time.
The man from Jamshedpur said he was pleased to be giving something back to his home State.
“It’s a young side finding its feet. I keep telling the boys to keep fighting. It’s the same thing that I learnt from Lillee. He would always talk about the never-say-die attitude.”
Relishing his time back in India after 10 years in Australia, Subroto said, “Guiding young cricketers gives you a lot of happiness.”
And his bond with Chennai remained special. He recalled playing in the TNCA first division league. “I turned out for India Pistons and SPIC. The standard was high, it was very competitive and we even played on matting tracks which enhanced our skills.” He added, “And we played with the Sonex ball that stopped doing much after the first 10 overs. So we had to be inventive as pacemen.”
Cause for delight
Subroto is delighted with the depth in the Indian pace bowling ranks now.
“When I grew up, there was only Kapil Dev. Now there is so much pace, quality and variety.”