Iyer Sr’s long-pending wish will finally be fulfilled. “Test cricket is the real cricket. I always wanted him to play Tests
Nobody would be as excited as Santosh Iyer today to switch on the television from 9am when the captains of India and New Zealand walk out for the toss at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium. After all, his son Shreyas is set to debut in the first Test.
Iyer Sr’s long-pending wish will finally be fulfilled. “Test cricket is the real cricket. I always wanted him to play Tests. Today, that dream will come true. My wife and I are absolutely delighted,” Iyer’s father, who was eagerly waiting to speak with his son, told mid-day on Wednesday.
Santosh got to know about Shreyas’s debut when stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane revealed it in the virtual press conference. Father and son spoke on Tuesday, but Shreyas dropped no hints to him. “He never tells us anything about his cricket or what is happening. He wants to surprise us. I had called yesterday [Tuesday] to wish him all the best for his first red-ball practice after a long time,” Santosh revealed.
Shreyas, who has 4,592 first-class runs in 54 matches, last played red-ball cricket when Rahane led the Rest of India team against Ranji Trophy champions Vidarbha in the Irani Cup in 2019. He smashed an unbeaten 61 in the second innings as the match ended in a draw.
Iyer Sr’s WhatsApp DP (Display Picture) has been of Shreyas holding the trophy after India clinched the Test series 2-1 against Australia in 2017. The picture was shot at Dharamsala where Shreyas was called in as an injury replacement for skipper Virat Kohli.
“I have had this DP since then. I have never changed it because I always wanted to remind him that this [playing Test cricket] should be his ultimate goal. I am thrilled it’s finally happening,” he remarked. In 2015, when Shreyas struck big in the IPL auction after Delhi Daredevils splurged Rs 2.6 crore, this correspondent visited Iyer’s residence at Worli to gauge the mood. However, there wasn’t an extra-special feeling. “When he plays Test cricket, we will be really happy,” his father had remarked.
Cut to 2021, the enthusiasm and excitement in Iyer Sr’s voice is like never before. “We always wanted him to play Test cricket. I have been telling Shreyas to try for a Test spot. He always used to say that it will happen. So, that’s what has happened now. Honestly, we were not expecting it to happen against New Zealand. I will be on my toes, certainly. We expect him to perform well. It is a big opportunity since other stalwarts are not in the team,” he signed off.
Mumbai players who made Test debut v NZ
1955-56: Chandrakant Patankar, GR Sunderam
1969-70: Ashok Mankad, Ajit Pai, Eknath Solkar
1975-76: Dilip Vengsarkar
1980-81: Ravi Shastri