Sunday, September 25, 2011

Satya Srinivas – An Interview With The German Wicket-Keeper

Satya Srinivas (c) DCB

This is the most special moment for a cricket writer: an interview with a player of the team you love. Srinivas Satyanarayana aka Satya has been keeping wicket for Germany for three years now and I was absolutely delighted that he agreed to have this little chat with me. Born in India in the city of Calcutta and brought up in Hyderabad he came to Germany as a young bloke, and with a lot of determination and (he will disagree) talent he battled his way into the national side. Get yourself a good cup of tea or coffee and enjoy a look into his fascinating world. The interview was conducted like a chat, hence the casual style, enjoy!
Hey Satya how are you today? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, is this the first interview you give as a cricketer?
Hey Wes I am good. My pleasure!! Yeah this is definitely my first interview as a cricketer and probably my last as well :)
Oh never say never. Alright, could you perhaps introduce yourself to our readers a bit i.e. you give us a short summary of your cricket career, from your first backfoot defence to your present situation?

Ha ha ha… I am no great cricketer in this regard. But have been always passionate about the game. Learnt my cricket in the streets of Secunderabad. Have been playing cricket since the age of 6 if I remember it right. Feel lucky to be playing cricket even in a country like Germany where cricket is almost an unknown sport.
Six is a nice age to start playing cricket, did you always want to become a wicket-keeper?
No not really, started of as an off-spinner, played my school cricket as a batsman who can bowl a bit of off-spin. When I realized it was hard getting into my University cricket team in Madras (now Chennai) I decided to take up wicket-keeping at the age of 20 realizing that I could actually do a better job than the keeper at our University at that point in time, that’s how it all started. Having a couple of sessions with MSK Prasad at the St. Johns Cricket Academy in Secunderabad motivated me to take the job seriously. My childhood friend Ashley was a great inspiration as well. By the way MSK Prasad is an ex-Indian wicket-keeper :)
Wow do you think you could still take a couple of wickets if your captain needs you to?
Sure… you should ask Brian Mantle [Pres. of NRWCU / Nordrhein-Westfalen state team]. I have actually opened the bowling playing for Bochum CC and also have about 3 five wicket hauls if I remember it right. Those were the times when I was a lot fitter and easily did all 4 departments for my team (batting, bowling, fielding and wicket-keeping) ;) Isn’t it funny!!! Lots of people seeing me now will not dare to believe it… anyways that’s how life is :) I still do come up and bowl a few overs for my team Köln A whenever needed.
Dear me. I think I have unearthed a gem here! Let me just quickly pick myself up from floor.
Ha ha ha….no no not at all. My intention was never to boast about myself… please don’t get me wrong. I just meant of course I can come up and bowl a few good overs whenever needed.
Satya batting against Guernsey in Jersey in 2008
You have addressed fitness, as an amateur cricketer who also plays for the national side you need to maintain certain fitness standards, how do you manage to keep fit amongst all your worldly duties?
I used to maintain my fitness by playing badminton and table tennis here in Essen in the Kreisliga [district league]. Those were my winter sports. But in the last 15-18 months my fitness has taken a beating with all the job related travel I do.
Also until 2009 I was playing most of my club cricket in Holland as well as in Germany. Playing in Holland was a great motivator as I played in the Eerste Klasse there and hence got to play against and with several first-class cricketers from various cricket playing nations across the world. I will definitely now work on my fitness as I still have a feeling that I have still a lot to contribute to German Cricket :)
Impressive stuff… so this is how you’ve made it into the national side… BTW you’ve mentioned Bochum, did you play with Kashif Haider [German legspinner] there?
No unfortunately not. I have only played with Kashif in the NRW squad and the German national side. I guess he joined Bochum in the year 2005, by which time I had already parted company with Bochum CC to play for Cricket Club of Rheinland (CCR).
The German captain Asif Khan described in an interview how difficult it is to always take a week off from work in order to travel to the international tournaments, how do you personally tackle this problem, is your boss cooperative?
I cannot obviously involve my boss in all this. I am allowed a certain number of holidays in a calendar year and I need to accommodate the cricket tournaments for Germany in this schedule. The people at my company are really appreciative of the fact that I represent a national team. But my first responsibility is obviously towards my job.
But there are people in our team who work as taxi-drivers or work in restaurants, who basically take time off without getting paid during such kind of cricket tournaments for Germany. Everyone basically plays for the passion of the game.

Have you ever had to miss out on an international match or tournament due to work commitments?
I have been playing for the German national team since 2008 and the WCL Division 5 tournament in Jersey was my first outing in German colours. Luckily I haven’t missed a single cricket tournament for Germany yet.
I hope it’s gonna stay that way :) A different question, did or do you have any role models as a cricketer?
Several in fact, I get inspired by several things that happen on a cricket field. This great game teaches you a lot of things. Role models when it comes to wicket-keeping “Nayan Mongia”. A lot of people would laugh at this answer of mine… but one should watch the purity in glove work of this man. He was a great wicket-keeper, who had lovely soft hands, which is essential for a keeper. Ajay Jadeja and Sachin Tendulkar are also my favorite cricketers. Rishi Pillai [German allrounder] is a great mate of mine too !!! :) How can I forget his name!
I think I have a lot of reading up to do after this interview, and thank you for answering in advance what you would regard as an important skill in wicket-keeping. OK let’s have a closer look at your batting. What’s your highest one day score so far?
Satya keeping against Guernsey in Jersey in 2008
My highest score in one day cricket is 150 batting at no.3 for my club side in Holland in the year 2006.
Do you have a signature shot, a stroke that is characteristic for you?
Phew… a tough one to answer, you should be asking my team mates or co-players this question.
Will try and do that, if the occasion arises. Which bowler did you find the most difficult to face so far?
No one in particular here in Germany. But quite a few in Holland and India. To be frank I cannot motivate myself to play league cricket in Germany. I am not saying this to talk highly about myself. I just get motivated when I play a higher level of cricket. It’s not at all a good thing for any youngster to follow. I am changing myself in this regard and trying to focus during any cricket game that I play in. Everyone needs to be learning everyday in his / her life and I am no different in this regard… hence will change myself… :)
Alright… and internationally?
Mohd. Murad [Kuwaiti fast bowler] perhaps is the quickest that I have faced in quite some time, maybe the last 3-4 years… But other than that I cannot think of any. There have been good spells of bowling along the way for sure but I cannot remember the bowlers’ names… Sorry for this!
Ha. I was thinking of Murad as well! Which takes us to another interesting topic. You’ve travelled a lot with the national side and have seen many places all around the world. Can you tell us something about your adventures on the road, where did you like it best?
Every place had its charm. Cannot pick on any one place. Every single tour has been enjoyable. Made some wonderful friends along the line, met some great people, shared some lovely memories with my team mates… Sorry cannot pick on any one special occasion. It’s been a great ride until now with the German cricket team and am thankful for the opportunity given to me. Will like to think that I have given it my all in every single game that I have played for Germany till date.
Most recently the team travelled to Botswana for the WCL Div 7 and took the opportunity to go on a Safari, is that correct? Did you see any dangerous animals? Who was more afraid of the other, you or the lion?
Ha ha ha… Good one… Will definitely like to think that the lion was afraid of me as it never made an effort to appear in front us, in spite of we ending up specially paying a few bucks to pay them a visit… :)
What do you think was the main reason why Germany missed out on promotion to Div. 6?
It’s a pity that we missed out on promotion. Because with regards to the effort of every single player in the team there was absolutely no lack of it, as you can see in the way we came back especially after losing the second and third games against Nigeria and Botswana respectively. We were literally down in the dumps and depressed after the third game against Botswana.
Nothing against my mates here, but I would like to add a frank opinion here… The third game against Botswana we had it in our kitty especially posting a total of 229 on the board and having them at 90 odd for the loss of 7 wickets. We lost this game mainly due to some indisciplined effort from all of us on the field. German Cricket has got a lot of individual talent with both the bat and the ball but we as a team have to learn to be disciplined and have to make a conscious effort on the field for making a nice picture for people looking from the outside :) That´s the only criticism from my side… SORRY FOR THIS GUYS… But I like to talk honest and straight and could not hold this back…
The German squad and staff in Guernsey 2010 (c) DCB
Thank you for this very straightforward view, I had the feeling as well that Germany are a very strong bowling side and especially the Botswana match could have been won. Right, among the people you met were there also some players from the other sides; is Hisham Mirza as funny as he appears to be?
I cannot comment a lot on Hisham Mirza, as I haven’t had a lot of conversations with him. But as a cricketer I think he has got a level head on him and carries the Kuwaiti team pretty well on the field.
Speaking of captaincy, have you ever skippered a side?
To be frank not much. Just twice, both times when the captains appointed for the game could not make it for some reason. First game as a skipper was for NRW in 2005/2006 against the British Army, where I happened to score 143 opening the batting :)The second game as skipper was for the German National team during a practice game in Husum against the Denmark A side just before the tour to Botswana, which we lost. Though I personally think that I have a good cricketing brain on me:) Would never choose myself as the captain cause I generally feel I do not have the patience to do this job… which is the key for any captain irrespective of the type of sport being played. But my record as a captain is not bad with a win percentage of 50 :)
Satya honestly you are a man of thousand talents. Change of topic, do you also follow other international teams, like for instance India?
Yes as I told, cricket is my passion, I do follow a lot of cricket around the world.
Do you think India won the World Cup because Sachin didn’t make a ton in the final?
No not at all. It was a great team effort. Sachin did play a role during the entire tournament… and it was time others stepped upto the party, like Dhoni did in an awesome fashion.
Oh you appear not be as superstitious about that as some other Indians! Did you also follow the IPL? The Deccan Chargers didn’t look too great this year, or are you more the whistle podu type of person?
Ha ha ha….I switch sides according to my comfort zone :) Basically Deccan, CSK AND KKR are the sides I can root for in any IPL.
Okay this IPL question has now lead us to the silly and final part of the interview, I wanna play a little game with you. Out of two things I would like you to pick the one you prefer or would choose, if you had to.
Reverse Sweep or Dilscoop?
Never did any of this before… because I already manage to find some stupid ways to throw my wicket away :)
Tomato or cucumber?
None as of now :)
Warne or Murali?
Both, Warne for his guile with an orthodox leg-spinning action, Murali to have had such an outstanding career in spite of all the controversies surrounding his bowling action.
Box or helmet?
Box (1st place – as it is a question of balls) and helmet (2nd place)
Coffee or tea?
Coffee or tea based on my mood, prefer both.
DCB [German Cricket Federation] or BCCI?
Ha ha ha…I have nothing to do with the BCCI. Of course DCB as it has provided me with an opportunity to represent Germany.
Is there actually anything from India which you are missing in Germany?
The happiness… it’s an age old thing that, the people who have everything crave for even more and hence their headache increases everyday :) The best thing about India is even the poorest of poor manage to put up a smile on their face at the toughest of times. I love my country of origin. Thankful for the opportunities that Germany has presented to me.
Alright last but not least…. would you wear a shirt with this print?
No I will not, as I know who Adam Gilchrist is. I respect him as he has single-handedly revolutionized the role of a wicket-keeper batsman in the modern day game.
Thank you for this awesome, incredibly enlightening interview Satya, my head is buzzing with all the new info. Hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did. Whatever happens in the future, I wish you all the best. Any last words to the readers?
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Thanks for taking the time to do this bit for an unknown cricketer… really appreciate your efforts in this regard. I wish you all the very best in all your endeavors as well Wes…. Keep playing cricket for the enjoyment and fun of it. At the end of it all it is after all a game….HAVE FUN GUYS!! Keep supporting and rooting for cricketers outside the test playing nations as well, as they play an important role in promoting the game across the globe to an extent.
You’ve heard the man, from my side there is nothing more to add except for a big thank you.
Contributed by Wes
Follow Wes on Twitter @WesPFCNFS

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