A Tribute on Robin Singh
When I read the headlines in the sports section slashed all over some of the papers few days back in India – “Is Irfan Pathan the next Kapil Dev?”, “have we found our world class all rounder?”, I had to remind myself that Kapil Dev wasn’t the last real all rounder we had around in the Indian cricket scene. My heart and mind both reminded me of an outstanding cricketer spontaneously who had represented the National Side in the late 90s. Yes, the Post-Kapil-Dev-era saw a small time unheralded hero in Indian cricket – Robin Singh!
The Doors of opportunity in Indian cricket are never regular ones – for strange reasons best known to few people and unknown to many, Robin Singh was shown the exit door. Then again, cricket selection is a funny little thing – age seemed a bigger number than the runs scored and the wickets taken and the hard work done by this gentleman. The sweat and toil on the field was paltry compared to the Mega AGE Factor.
For someone with foreign roots, (being born in the Caribbean), Rabindra Ramnarayan Singh who is of course better known as Robin Singh got his entry into the Indian team when he was selected for the Indian team to tour his native land in 1989. He wasn’t played after that for another 7 long years…
The distance between Robin Singh and a place in the Indian team seemed longer than the Khyber Pass. There was no hope whatsoever, except that the sun offers a ray of hope. Robin Singh is one man who had faith in himself. There was one great warrior, an unsung hero – a person who never gave the team anything short of his best, efforts of labour bear fruits in the name of results. In his early thirties, Robin was as fit as a twenty two year old would be. He always put his heart and soul whether he was fielding at covers or whether he was patrolling the boundaries. He was the man who used to make the 1s into 2s and the 2s into 3s for the shots played by his partner; he was a perfect team man.
His cameos at the end of each Indian innings are always part of Indian cricketing lore. Who would forget the vomit-feverish innings in an ODI against Sri Lanka, even as India limped back from a desperate situation? Even as India was in tatters, he brought back the team to such a close position, even as he was vomiting in between deliveries and with the Lankan spinners running riot. To recall his bravado in Zimbabwe – in a tri series match in 1997 featuring India- Zimbabwe-South Africa. Robin Singh aged 32, ran singles and doubles like a hare and matched Ajay Jadeja shot for shot, running between the wickets was ever so good, it seemed like Bevan at both ends! They could have blocked off the sun that afternoon – Robin Singh would have scorched more heat than the sun! That Paarl Tied Game in 1997 against Zimbabwe was a match that actually saw Robin’s heroics at the International level. Robin was known in the Domestic Circuit for hitting those long sixes and it came as no surprise as the gutsy left hander hammered a 31-ball 48 coming into bat at no.8 in a perfectly tense situation. The rapport that Robin built with his team mates shall hold him in good stead and even today, his partnership with Ajay Jadeja in that match is unforgettable. And the tail wagged when he was around.
We have funny ways of judging an all rounder – figures may be the key to impress connoisseurs of the game to fix the benchmark for an all rounder – wickets, and runs combined. Robin Singh wouldn’t rank in the top half of that list – but his attitude, sportsmanship, his hard work, the tales of his innings, bowling and fielding shall forever be part of our memories, and in this regard, Robin Singh was well and truly one of the greatest cricketers from India!