Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 12 – Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina, India’s first batsman to score a century in all three formats, World Cup 2011 QF and SF hero, arguably one of the best fielder this game has seen and a handy spin bowler, on August 15th 2020, chose to join M.S. Dhoni in the retirement club at the age of 33.
I got the opportunity to have a chat with one of the fans of Suresh Raina to speak about his career stint with India and the kind of person he is in this article.
Thank You so much for your participation in this interview, When was the first time you saw Suresh Raina on tv? When did you become a hardcore fan of him?
Actually being born in 2002, I had seen him all these times but when I actually started liking him was that 2008 Asia cup where he was stand out performer for India, the love for him kept building on as the years passed and by 2011-2012 he was already my favorite.
Later I also came to know about his behaviour and humbleness off the pitch which gave me another reason to consider him as a role model and there was no turning back.
Suresh Raina, like MS Dhoni, was a handy lower middle order batsman who could play the finishing role, your thoughts on his batting career?
As a fan, I always wanted him to bat at 3/4 like he did in the Asia Cup I mentioned but you know we had quite big names in top 4 already so he had to bat at 6-7.
As we say wicketkeepers do a thankless job, I also feel the batsman batting 6/7 as finishers also are the ones who do a really thankless job, when they do well they’re not much credited as they most of the times just have 30s/40s and 50s to their names unlike hundreds from top3. Similar was the case with him, his overall career numbers might not be as big as of Virats and Rohits but the impact he had in 2008-2015 period was huge. If we see his numbers with some specific filters, he did more than just a fair job for all these years. (I have stats for you in my pinned tweet’s end)
I’m really proud of what he has done as in his playing days India never struggled to search new MO/LMO batsman.
Your top 3 favourite Suresh Raina knocks for India?
Raina has played some really important match winning knocks for India all these years right from 81* v England in 2006 where top 4 fell after getting good starts to two hundreds and a eighty in 2008 asia cup to hundreds in WT20 and Test Debut to few 70s 80s, that superb 2015 wc campaign and 49*(25) in 3rd T20i at The SCG 2016.
Tough to rank them in any order but my top 3 Suresh Raina knocks for India would be:
- 34*(28) v Aus in WC QF where MO crumbled and India still required 70 odd with Raina Yuvi the last recognised batting pair.
- 36*(39) v Pak in WC SF when after giving good starts, Indian batting order kind of faced a collapse and he was the only hope to take India to a respectable total. He shouldered the responsibility and took us to 260 and India went on to win a close encounter by 29 runs
- 100(75) v England at Cardiff. After a 3-1 Test series loss, main players had some baggage and we wanted someone to step up on a bowler friendly track against Jimmy and Broady, he came in for the LOIs and did what exactly was expected from him. Used his sensible aggression and took us through.
Not to forget his two gritty 80s in Caribbean (Tests) where he was wrongly given out in 2011
Suresh Raina was not just handy with the bat but also with the ball, how would you describe his bowling?
He has always been a team man and someone who would step up for any job he was asked for, same was with his bowling, he always stepped up and bowled a tight economic stump to stump bowling. He kind of had a golden arm where he could pick a few partnership breaking big wickets. That was exactly his job. A 3-4 4-5 over spell here and there to break the partnerships. He did it quite well whenever had a chance
And how can we forget his fielding, your thoughts?
Yes, how could we. He was so much instrumental alongside Yuvraj and Kaif to revolutionize Indian fielding from mid-2000s. He always wanted to be at important positions, never had a second thought about should I dive or do I just let it be, in India we know the conditions of the grounds, how rough are they and nobody wanted to dive here before Raina Yuvi and Kaif made it cool. 2013 CT, he was leader of Indian fielding group and also took most catches in the tournament, top quality slip catcher and good runner in outfield. Always there on right places on right time. Liked taking the lead of the field and did a great great job all over his career, right from Atapattu’s runout on debut, Akmal’s catch at point, diving Stokes’ catch in slip, Katich’s catch in 2006 and the list goes on and on and on. Any captain would want a Raina-esque fielder on his paper.
Which other leagues would you like Suresh Raina to play apart from IPL?
None for now until and unless BCCI allows to play IPL as well as other leagues but to name them, I’d like to see him play the BBL and CPL for sure. New challenges would only make him better. Maybe Vitality Blast as well.
What do you feel about his retirement considering he is just 33?
Talking about his retirement, it’s tough to digest as a fan. This will take time to sink in. He is just 33 and likes of Yuvi, Nehra, Dhoni and Sachin played till around 40. Fitness has always been on his side, he could’ve pushed himself a few more years and given himself a go atleast for T20Is but respecting his decision, as a fan and admirer, I’m very very proud of what he has achieved all these years, 322 international caps is a big deal and not many are able to achieve that. Just feel for him as he has not been rewarded with The Arjuna Award, some players with even 50-60 internationals have that in their cabinet. But looking at a brighter side, it has been one hell of a ride where with his mantra of never give up, he made several come backs and I’m really proud of him.
He also is so much more than just a cricketer, does a really good job for the unprivileged section of the society through GRF. He absolutely is an inspiration.