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Sunil Narine - Mohawk menace
Accolades, awards and deserving professional contracts from around the world keep flowing the way of Arima’s generally shy (he describes himself as silent) global cricket superstar Sunil Narine.
And as he continues to develop his talent, he keeps on weaving his mysterious magical web around the world’s top batsmen. He is currently rated as the number one bowler in the T20 (20 overs) version of the game.
As this feature on the right-handed bowler, left-handed batsman goes to print, he is already off to a rollicking start in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he plies his trade for famed Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s team, the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Narine, along with fellow Trini players Kevon Cooper, his childhood buddy, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree and Ravi Rampaul, is currently doing his thing for various franchises in the high-profile annual IPL T20 competition.
He has also been contracted by the Sydney Sixers team for the Australian Big Bash League and for the Barisal Burners in the Bangladesh Premier League. Regional fans are also waiting with bated breath to see him in the upcoming inaugural Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The Sunday Guardian recently interviewed Sunil Narine. Preferring to stay out of the limelight away from the cricket field, however, it took a bit of prodding to finally get the time with the much-in-demand bowler of mysterious doosras/carom/knuckle balls and off spinners.
Like his Trinidadian predecessor Sonny Ramadhin did a couple of generations earlier, Narine, 24, mesmerizes the best in the world. His trademark mohawk hairstyle, however, is neatly slicked when compared to the cap-wearing and button-downed long-sleeved Ramadhin of the 1950s and 60s. And what a tangled web he weaves as he stays ahead with his variety, accuracy and consistency.
Narine, who turns 25 next month, is one of the more recent global cricketing superstars T&T has provided to the world, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Sir Learie Constantine, Clifford Roach, Ramadhin and Brian Lara.
He views his solid performances in the 2005 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka for the West Indies as his stepping stone to bigger things to come, as he was able to find a consistent spot in the senior team at his local club, Queen’s Park. It was, however, at the 2011 Champions League Twenty20 in India, playing for T&T in a crucial match against the Chennai Super Kings, when he dismissed star batsmen Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, the last two caught and bowled, that the cricketing world really began to take notice of Narine.
Named after the Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, Narine is no slouch with the bat either. A left-handed batsman, he recently pulled off victories from the jaws of defeat in two matches, one for Queen’s Park and another for the national team.
Among his more recent accolades are the ICC’s (International Cricket Conference) Emerging Player of the Year for 2012; the T&T Cricket Board’s (TTCB) Cricketer of the Year 2012 and Player of the Tournament 2012 IPL.
Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
A: Arima, I grew up there and still live there.
Who are the people who influenced and inspired you the most, in your career and in life in general?
Other than my parents in everything, and Brian Lara in cricket, I would say that at a young age in the North East Zone, coach Tarendath Sammy, who allowed me to express myself in all aspects of the game. There are many others who played a hand, too, at different stages in me being the determined and dedicated cricketer that I am today.
What schools/institutions did you attend?
Arima Boys’ RC (primary) and El Do “Blue” (El Dorado East Secondary)
What advice would you give to the young people of T&T?
Enjoy your life and what you do and make sure that whatever you choose to do, that you like it and give it your heart and soul.
What are some of the things people may not generally know about you?
That my first love was windball cricket; that I do not drink alcohol or smoke, that I have been at Queen’s Park Cricket club since I was seven; and I have many different shades of sunglasses.
What motto do you live by and what is your recipe for success?
My motto in life is “life is what you make it.” That is my recipe for success.
Cricket has taken you to many countries … where else would you like to visit?
Hmmm … I hear that Las Vegas is nice, so probably there for a holiday and the experience.
Who was your hero growing up and why?
I would say Brian Lara, whose dedication and hard work allowed him to achieve so much and to see how far he reached, inspired me to want to play for the West Indies.
What is your favourite pastime/ interest/hobby (non-cricket)?
I play a bit of PlayStation when I have the time.
What was it like growing up in your family?
Lots of love and enjoyment, both my parents did their best to provide everything for me and my sister. My dad, well, every day after school we will go to the savannah with a bat and ball and play a lot of cricket. My mom eventually realised and accepted my love for cricket, more than the academics, which made it easier for me to focus on what I loved the most.
When and how did you get into playing cricket?
My dad (“Shad,” short for Shaheed) loves the game so every day as a little boy we would play every chance we got, every day at the savannah near us and every Saturday morning at the Queen's Park Oval coaching sessions.
When and where did you play your first game for T&T and for the West Indies?
First game for T&T was at UWI against the Leeward Islands, four-day game, in February 2009; my first for the West Indies was against India in India in an ODI game in December 2011. I made my Test debut in June 2011 versus England in England and my T20 debut for the West Indies against Australia in March 2012 in St Lucia.
Which cricket ground is the best you’ve ever played on, outside of the Queen’s Park Oval, of course?
It would have to be Perth in Australia.
Of all your accolades, prizes and awards, which do you rate as extremely special?
Being named the MVP at the IPL tournament, on such a big stage, outside of West Indies cricket, so early in my international career.
What goals and or ambitions do you still have?
To play international cricket for as long as possible, maintain my love for the game and don’t get swell-headed.
Who and/or what are the love(s) of your life?
My family, of course cricket and, … am, … my girlfriend.
How are you handling all the fame and fortune that have come your way at such a relatively young age?
It’s tough but at the end of the day I’m doing something that I love so that makes it easier. Travelling constantly is hard, but I am adjusting, coping and enjoying it.
What is your cricket schedule for the next few months?
Well, I am heading out to the IPL in India, there is the possible Pakistan tour to the West Indies, the ICC ODI Champions Trophy in England, the Champions League in India….
Describe yourself in two words, one beginning with S, the other with N, your initials.
Silent and Nice.
And finally that mohawk hairstyle: tell our readers about it.
Well, it started about five or six years ago and I haven’t changed it since. It has grown in nicely and is very easy to maintain so I probably won’t change it any time soon.