I needed the Railways job desperately, says Pradeep

I needed the Railways job desperately, says Pradeep

T Pradeep

Each time T Pradeep leaves behind his Railways team-mates and walks over to the Karnataka dressing room for a chat -- there's plenty of time for that in his weather-affected Ranji Trophy contest between the side at the Karnail Singh stadium -- an unmistakable fellowship and ease shrouds them. 

While a common language - Kannada - has a part to play, the fact that the medium-pacer was part of the Karnataka set-up not long ago accentuates the bonhomie further. For that alone, while his employers empower him much, he must still feel the pinch of not playing alongside men he shared rooms with as boys. 

Pradeep, after making his debut for Karnataka in limited-over cricket in 2017, switched to Railways before the start of this season. It was an unprecedented move, but Pradeep insists, it was one he couldn’t avoid.

“My father was retiring (as a police constable) and my brother didn’t have a job so I had to get a job,” he says, avoiding eye contact. “Getting placed or getting a job was not at all on my mind at the time, but I suffered an injury (stress fracture to the back) and I had to assess the situation.

“When Railways came to me with an offer around the same time, I had the choice of turning it down but I realised that a career as a medium pacer is never assured, injuries and all, so I needed a job. Banks weren’t hiring at the time so it made sense to take up the job. Since I am from a humble family, we needed that financial stability too,” adds the Swastic Union product.

This fire of youth resulted in Pradeep picking up 21 wickets in six games so far for Railways at a team-high average of 16.61 and an economy of 2.61. And his season’s best, yet, came against Mumbai when he picked up 6 for 37 in the first innings and 2 for 46 in the second to inspire an unlikely victory. 

“I have done well enough here. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have received here. This is the perfect platform for me. I don’t have any regrets,” says the Florence Public School alumni. It sounded more like Pradeep was consoling himself. 

Pradeep realised that despite his efforts in limited-over cricket for Karnataka, he would have to bide his time before being considered for four-day cricket. Though R Vinay Kumar took his skills to Puducherry before the start of this season, Karnataka had A Mithun, Ronit More, V Koushik and Prateek Jain in the squad as the specialist pacemen. At 24-years-old, and having only started playing at 16, it was going to be a while before Pradeep had his foot in the door. 

“I knew that even if I was to stay and play for Karnataka, I would have gotten only a few games, maybe three or four. Here, I knew I would get to play the whole season without a break. While the decision was because of my financial situation, it made more sense when you look at game time. I am young and I can’t spend all my time waiting,” he explains.

Which is why when asked if he would consider playing for Karnataka if the opportunity presented itself, Pradeep looked in every direction before mumbling an ‘I don’t know’.