How does it feel when your hobby becomes a career option? Ask Ajay Yadav, a medium-pacer from the Jharkhand Ranji Trophy team.
Yadav, 26, has come a long way from being a milkman to a cricketer. Whenever he is not donning whites, Yadav, who hails from Ranchi (the city India skipper MS Dhoni resides in) does what he’s been doing for years: deliver milk to households early in the morning.
“Ever since my parents passed away (mother in 2007 and father in 2009), my brother and I have been taking care of the business. At times it gets a bit difficult to juggle my schedule, but I can’t do anything. Milking cows and buffaloes is our main source of income.
Cricket has made a difference but I am still establishing myself,” Yadav told MiD DAY on the eve of Jharkhand’s Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ match against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Yadav, however, is not aware when cricket turned into a serious career option. “There was ample time in the afternoons after I finished milking the cows and delivering the milk.
My brother and I would play tennis ball cricket. People would appreciate my bowling. I started bowling more. I don’t know when I got serious about it. I never imagined all this,” he said.
So, how does he juggle his schedule with cricketing commitments? “I get up by 4 in the morning and finish delivering milk by 6.30. After that I go for my practice sessions.
When I am not in Ranchi, my brother or my nephew handle it,” said Yadav, who had to sell a few of his cows and buffaloes for the medical treatment of his brother last year.
“With the money from cricket I was able to buy a few cows again,” informed Yadav. This is Yadav’s second first-class season. He claimed a fifer in his first match of the season against Odisha in Cuttack. In his debut season, Yadav claimed 23 wickets in five matches.
“My aim is to make the batsman play. That is the only way to get him out,” said Yadav, who feels both his outswingers and inswingers are his main weapons.
Jharkhand’s former coach Tarak Sinha, who is also the guru of Shikhar Dhawan, was instrumental in giving Yadav a break in first-class cricket last season. “I was a net bowler when Sinha Sir saw me.
He asked me whether I had played for the state. I told him it was in the U-22. He supported me and brought me back in the team. Our current coach (Subroto Banerjee), my captain (Shahbaz Nadeem) and the support staff have been very encouraging,” said Yadav.
Any talk of Jharkhand without Dhoni is incomplete. Asked whether he has met his senior teammate, Yadav said: “I have met Mahi bhai only once when he was playing for Jharkhand. After he became an international player, it is difficult to see him.”