Bowled over by cricket

Unique Hobbies

Bowled over by cricket

Be it jerseys, caps or miniature bats, Pranav has nearly a thousand cricket-related possessions that have personally been autographed by various Indian and international cricketers.

The second PUC commerce student of Jain College is a passionate philographer and started this hobby at the age of nine. He would get excited each time he learnt that the cricketers were in the City. “The first cricketer I met closely was MS Dhoni. He was in the City for a four-day camp before he left for the England ODI and Test series in 2007.

He was the vice-captain of the team then. I badly wanted a picture with him but unfortunately, I could not get it. I met him again during the Indo-Pak series and was successful in getting an autograph from him. That is how my interest in collecting autographs began,” says Pranav.

“After that, I happened to read about a cricket museum in Pune. It fascinated me and I wanted to have my own collection of autographs and sweatshirts of the players,” he adds.

Encouraged and supported by his dad Jambu Kumar, he later met the hotshots of the cricket team including Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, along with the team of Pakistan which included Yasir Arafat, Kamran Akmal and Inzamam-Ul-Haq. A dedicated young fan, he succeeded in getting all their autographs.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) helped him all the more. “I started collecting miniature bats autographed by cricketers during the IPL. There were many players who willingly gave their jerseys to me,” he explains.

His collection consists of Anil Kumble’s 2004 jersey, Rahul Dravid’s jersey, the sweatshirts of the Indian team of 1990, Afghanistan jersey and a cap of the Australian cricketer Johan Botha to name a few. His collection is so vast that he does not have an actual count of the things he has.

An aspiring cricketer himself, Pranav is a leg spinner and played cricket in Sri Lanka as part of the cricket team of Frank Anthony Public School, where he was even recognised for being the highest wicket taker.

And it’s not just the autographs he cherishes. He has some great memories of his tete-a-tete with the cricketers too! “I bowled for South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher. I admire the Australian cricketer Johan Botha, who jovially patted me on my back and handed me his cap.

I have bowled for cricketer Mohammed Kaif too,” he says excitedly. His most priced possessions include a photograph with Sachin Tendulkar which has also been autographed by the cricketer and autographed biographies of MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Kapil Dev. “I have met Dhoni more than 20 times! There was this one time where I asked him to sign his biography and he did so without even asking me my name,” he says. He even gifted Dhoni a piece of granite with a carving of the cricketer.

“While I was rushing to gift this to him, the cops chased me and asked me to move away. But Dhoni stopped them and accepted my gift with a smile,” he gushes.

As soon as he gets information on the whereabouts of the cricketers, he is ready to go meet them. “I went to Chennai during one of the series. There, I met AG Milka Singh, one of the renowned batsmans of the 1960s. I had a good chat with him and he promised to give me the contacts of all the Test cricketers who played for India.

So my next step towards my collection is to meet all the former Indian Test cricketers and get their autographs. I also want to open a museum of my own someday,” he says enthusiastically.

Pranav, who hopes to join the Indian Cricket Team, says that his hobby has helped him in a lot of ways.

“It is not easy to get the autographs of famous cricketers. There is a technique that follows. It was very tough for me in the beginning but later, I learnt the art. My communication skills and confidence level have greatly improved,” he wraps up.

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