'I need to go out there and play positive cricket'
Stuart Binny tells Manu Shankar bowling is going to be crucial for him on the upcoming tour of New Zealand.
Any player going to make his national debut will be nervous, particularly if it is in seaming and swinging conditions abroad. But ask Stuart Binny and he will tell you that he is here to play positive cricket and not put undue pressure on himself by thinking about what will happen and what will not.
Binny, who is currently playing a Ranji Trophy match against Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla, was drafted into the national side on Tuesday after selectors named him in the 16-member ODI squad for the New Zealand tour later this month.
“I will not look too much into the pressure part of it. I will just go out there and enjoy my cricket. It is something that I dreamt of as a little kid – to play for the country -- and will look to do well on the tour,” the 29-year-old Karnataka all-rounder said.
Image: Stuart Binny
Binny has aggregated 321 runs this domestic season
Following a consistent run in the Ranji Trophy this season he now realises the importance of digging in at the crease and making it count.
“The season has been good so far. In the first two games I got a hundred against Gujarat and in the next couple of games I thought initially that if I get a start I need to consolidate and score a century for Karnataka. Today, when I got the news (of being selected), I was already well-set batting and it was crucial for me to get runs on the board,” he said, shortly after his selection.
Binny has aggregated 321 runs this domestic season, which includes a hundred and one half-century, at an average of 40.12 from nine innings. Overall, he has played 53 first-class matches for Karnataka and scored 2714 runs, at an average of 34.79, besides taking 79 wickets.
Asked what was his first reaction when he heard the news of his selection, he replied: “I was already out there in the middle and it took me three to four overs to get over the excitement. I was constantly telling my partner (Karun Nair) to keep going. Both of us were in a bit of shock.
“It’s a great feeling and I can’t express it in words. Basically, I had to think about that (selection) and Nair on the other side.”
On Tuesday, Binny came to the crease with Karnataka precariously placed at 73-4, and immediately counterpunched the Delhi bowlers. He put on 127 runs for the fifth wicket with Nair before being snapped by Ashish Nehra for 88.
'I wasn't expecting this call at all'
Son of former India all-rounder Roger, the junior Binny is hoping that his showing on the recent India ‘A’ tour to South Africa will stand him good stead.
“I was a part of the India ‘A’ tour to South Africa and played with 4-5 members of the current Indian team. They helped me during that tour. So, yeah, it will be good,” said Binny.
Asked whether he was expecting a call from the selectors, his reply was instant: “No, not really; I wasn’t expecting this call at all. In fact, I didn’t even know the selection was going on until someone told me that I have been selected for the tour.”
Binny was also part of the Under-19 World Cup squad in 2001-02 which was held in New Zealand itself and had the likes of Parthiv Patel and Ifran Pathan who both eventually made the India cut.
But the all-rounder has no regrets about making it to the senior national side almost 13 years later.
“You see, the way I look at it, you need to play for your country when you are at your best. Probably, I would not have been at my best then, experience-wise, but I had gone with the Under-19 team to New Zealand and now it’s with the senior team. I need to go out there and play positive cricket,” said Binny.
He feels he has progressed very well in the domestic circuit following the two-year lay-off after joining the rebel Indian Cricket League.
"I realised that things would change if consistency came into my game. I knew that converting those 40s and 50s and 70s won’t do the job for me. So I put my head down and strived for consistency. I especially look to bowl a lot more and I think by bowling is crucial for me.
“As far as the transition is concerned, that journey was a bit tough as you don’t have too many four-day games, but I did give some time to focus on my game.
“I worked with a couple of international players and coaches. Coach Steve Rixon helped me a lot during that period on various aspects of my game. It made me mentally stronger. I realised that I would have less chances so I needed to make the most of whatever I get," he said.
Image: Stuart Binny
Photographs: Manu Shankar