There aren’t a lot of batsmen in the world who can use their willow like a paintbrush, stroking their way to a master piece every time. Even fewer manage to accumulate a bucketful of runs in the process. NaMo Bandra Blasters’ captain Shreyas Iyer belongs to this rare category.
Iyer emulates Mumbai’s rich lineage of top order batsmen who combine class and brute strength perfectly in their game. The 23-year-old, who made his debut for the Men in Blue last year, had picked up a bat for the first time when he was just 10-years-old after watching Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in their prime.
As a youngster who was equally talented in the sport of football, Iyer had to flip a coin when the choice between the Gentlemen’s Game and the Beautiful Game presented itself.
“When the coin was in the air, I was thinking of cricket hence I took up cricket”, says Iyer, whose father also played the sport.
He first announced himself to the world after amassing an impressive 439 runs and bagging the emerging player of the year award while playing for Delhi Daredevils in the 2015 Indian Premier League. From there, Iyer continued his Bradman-esque run in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy, where he scored 1321 runs at an average of 73.38. It was only a matter of time then that he got a call up to play with the big boys.
However, despite his prolific run of form, Iyer’s journey to first class cricket was anything but a smooth-sailing affair. But it was his belief in his abilities that made the difference for the young cricket aspirant.
“I always got runs at the club level and I knew that I had it in me to play the game at the highest level,” explains Iyer.
But you cannot keep a good man down for long and Iyer’s sublime stroke play, combined with his disciplined approach, earned him a spot in the Mumbai Ranji Trophy side in 2014.
As a youngster still finding his way in competitive cricket, Iyer made a firm decision to carve his own path.
“I wanted to set an example for other players,” says Iyer, who focuses on staying in the present without thinking too far ahead of himself.
The quintessential Mumbaikar who loves the vada pav and scoring runs at the Wankhede, is a perfect fit for T20 Mumbai as well. He was picked by NaMo Bandra Blasters for the league and given the mantle of captaincy. It is here that his big-hitting abilities and natural inclination towards a leadership role may see Shreyas ‘Starboy’ Iyer raise his game even further.