Be the Robin to batman Sachin Siva, star of India’s physically challenged cricket team

New Indian Express

New Indian Express

Author 2019-09-16 12:39:00

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CHENNAI: C Siva Kumar is not the Indian cricketer we know. He doesn’t have a Twitter account, nor do fans follow him on the television, unless by chance someone ends up with DD Sports while flipping through channels. This 31-year-old all-rounder is part of India’s physically challenged cricket team. Despite representing the country for over four years, chances of a cricket buff knowing him are zero, unless Siva introduces himself.

Fondly called Sachin Siva in the fraternity, his eyes light up when he talks about his game. But he speaks very little. It takes an effort to even know that he is the only physically challenged cricketer to have scored a century for India. He takes out his mobile phone and shows video clips of a national-level tournament hosted by the TN Cricket Association for Physically Challenged, where the state-side finished runners-up.
Like others taking part in sports for the physically challenged, pursuing his passion is a road full of thorns for Siva.

He doesn’t know how things will go once he leaves for Nepal to play in a three-match series for the Indian team. All he knows is, on Tuesday, he will take a train to Hyderabad, fly to Gorakhpur and meet the rest of the team. From there, they will be on NH 24 for a 12-hour bus journey that will take them past the Himalayan ranges to Kathmandu. Their stay will be taken care of by Nepal’s physically challenged cricketers. Thanks to a friend, Siva has been able to manage the funds for his journey till Kathmandu.
But, he is not sure how he will make his way back home to Madurai. “After I was picked for the team, my friend helped me with tickets for one way. For the return journey, I have to find something. Even to take an unreserved coach on train, I need money.

I can’t ask my mother all the time as she has already given me whatever is possible,” he says. Born in a humble family, Siva’s mother runs a vegetable shop, where he often helps her. Playing cricket means he has not been able to find a regular job. Although he had worked in a finance company a couple of years back, he was told to quit because taking leave to play cricket was a no-no. “We are playing out of passion. We don’t get any monetary benefits out of it and we can’t afford to ask our families. My mother is already helping me. On top of that, I can’t ask her to fund my cricket,” says Siva, who sharpened his game by playing with able-bodied friends.

The All India Cricket Association for the Physically Challenged tries its best by organising tournaments, but it is up to the players completely to fund their trips to camps and matches. “We have been asking the BCCI for help, but nothing concrete has happened. It is the story everywhere. Sometimes despite making it to the team, a lot of us pulled out at the last moment because we couldn’t arrange funds.”

Siva isn’t the only one suffering. There are 15 others in the side. On Sunday, India cricketer Vijay Shankar, who previously sponsored the kits for the state’s physically challenged team, gifted Siva a pair of gloves and a bat. In August, a month after Virat Kohli’s team lost in the World Cup semifinal, the India team of physically challenged cricketers returned from England with the Physically Disabled World Cup. Nobody wished them. This time, they wouldn’t mind a bit of help.

To help Siva, you can contact him on 9677779277. Or reach out to Siva’s manager, Hari on 9976017246


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