Idukki youth sole Keralite in special world cricket event

Idukki youth sole Keralite in special world cricket event
Anish P Rajan will be the sole Malayali to play in the cricket tournament for players with special abilities. Photo: Reju Arnold

Thodupuzha: A young man from Idukki district in Kerala will be participating in the Physical Disability World Cricket Series which will be held from in Worcestershire, England, from August 3 to 13.

Anish P Rajan, a member of Thripunithura Cricket Club, has stumped many with his hard work and determination to come up so far despite disabilities. The 28-year-old will be the sole Malayali to play in the tournament for players with special abilities.

The Indian team for the unique event was announced a few months ago and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) gave nod to the All-India Cricket Association for the Physically Challenged (AICAPC) to field its team, this opening up a chance for the Kerala man to prove himself.

Anish is the youngest of the three children of P Rajan and KK Shyamala, natives of Paramekkavu in Idukki district.

He faced significant odds all through as he kept alive his passion for cricket. He was body-shamed frequently during childhood. But instead of feeling ashamed of himself, found strength in his limited abilities.

Brother Sameesh was his first cricket guru

The first turning point was a training camp near Muthalakkodu. “The organisers refused to pick someone without one arm. Some made fun,” recollected Anish. “But I refused to budge from the registration counter. They asked to bring a guardian and when I took a paternal uncle with me, they could not deny an entry.”

Former Kerala cricket team coach P Balachandran inspired Anish to switch from fast bowling to spin. That change likely helped him to break into an under-17 and -19 district team.

Anish excelled in studies too. He obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Sree Narayana Gurukulam College, Kolancheri.

“Disability was never a challenge for me. Never did I take anyone’s ridicule seriously. I always wanted to perform better than everyone else. I hail from Idukki. We don’t give up that easy,” Anish stated.

Later, he worked as an internal trainee at the Cochin Refineries before returning to cricket full time. That shift helped Anish to join the famed Thripunithura Cricket Club. He went on to lead Kerala’s cricket team for the physically challenged in 2017. His sparkling performance there opened up a slot for him in the South Zone team. He became the best fielder and bowler in the zonal tournament held in Haryana claiming 10 wickets from five matches. Anish stood outwith a stellar performance in the BCCI-held A-Division tournament.

India will take on England in the first T20 match on August 6. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan also feature in the tournament. Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne and Jonty Rhodes are Anish’s favourite cricketers.

The Indian team:

Vikran Keni (captain), Tushar Paul, Debabrata Roy, Kunal Phanase, Ravindra Sante, Wasim Khan, Suganesh Mahendaran, Anish Rajan, Anshul, Ramesh Mantri, Narendra Mangore, Jitendra Nagaraju, Gurjant Singh, Gurudas Raut, Aamir Rather and Mandeep Singh Sran.