In his second innings, fast bowler RP Singh returns in full swing
RP Singh was one of the talented bowlers among the ‘batsmen-heavy’ team of the 2000s. He had a brutal inswinger - a bowling technique where the ball moves in the air, from the off side to the leg side. His bowling was most sought after when MS Dhoni wanted to shake things up on the field.
This year, the fast-bowler has moved on from the field and is now a Hindi commentator with Star Sports. He has also turned into an entrepreneur with his cricket academy in Greater Noida. Between nudging WhatsApp voice notes and intrusive phone calls, while he jumped from one airport to the other, RP Singh shared his transition with YSWeekender.
One of the first things, I noticed about RP Singh was his uncomplicated outlook towards life. Though he is part of the exclusive ‘big player club’, socially, he comes across as strikingly grounded. He doesn’t wear his fame on his sleeve, but comes across as a small-town boy from Raebareli who made it in the world of cricket.
“I came into cricket because this is what I was good at, not for anything else. I was the boy from Raebareli who knew his celebrity status wouldn’t last forever. When you are successful, there are 50 people asking you for autographs at the airport. I knew that the number would be less someday.”
Rudra Pratap Singh shot into the limelight in the U-19 World Cup, Bangladesh in 2004 after he took eight wickets. The left-arm fast bowler has played 58 ODIS for India, has 69 ODI wickets to his credit, at an average of 33.95, and not to mention, was the star bowler of the T20 World Cup winning squad in 2007. He has also played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for different teams – Deccan Chargers, Kochi Tuskers, Royal Challengers and Rising Pune Supergiants.
“My friends, back home, would say the same thing. Tumse celebrity vibes nahi aati (You don’t act like a celebrity),” he says, adding, “I usually like people who don’t mould themselves according to a situation. They have a sense of who they are and stick to their identities. My wife Devanshi, is also like that. She will listen to the entire conversation but will give her point of view, not to please anyone but to keep things real. Jo hai so hai. (This is what it is.)
The bowler’s last test for India was in 2011, after which he didn’t make it to the IPL. He moved on to domestic cricket, representing Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy. He was among the top-15 wicket takers in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - a Twenty20 cricket BCCI domestic championship.
Was it difficult dealing with rejection?
“Yes, it was difficult, and wasn’t easy,” admits RP Singh.
“Cricket and bowling is what I have known since 1999 but the sooner I accepted the reality, the better it was for me. There will always be someone better than you, even if you think you are the best in the world.”
His wife has been a strong pillar of support, during challenging times. “During these times of frustration my wife has always been there for me, to give me a reality check. When we met, I knew she was the perfect girl for me because of her basic nature. She keeps things real. I guess I was always aware of failure - even when I was at the top of my game - I made small investments for my future," he says.
RP Singh is now a consulting Hindi cricket commentator with Star Sports. He has also turned into an entrepreneur by opening a cricket academy in Greater Noida for under-14 enthusiasts. He says, though they bug him with sporadic questions about bowling technicalities through the day, he loves his new job.
His is a pragmatic approach towards the present. “I think you should do what you are good at. I played cricket well, I put all my energies in that. The second part of my life had to be on the same lines. They were looking for Hindi cricket commentators and I signed up for it. Talking about cricket and getting paid for it is a perfect fit for me,” he laughs.
What seems to work for him as a commentator is that he can explain complex bowling technicalities like the reverse swing, in Hindi. It makes it more relatable to most enthusiasts. When he explains reverse swing, a bouncer or a yorker, it doesn’t seem like rocket science.
For a cricket academy, he needed space and accessibility. Noida is well-connected to Delhi and space wasn’t a big issue. Of the experience, he says, “I teach children what I have learnt in international cricket, especially the technical abilities. At this age, it’s important for them to learn all the technical aspects before anything else.”
“While teaching, I also learn a few things through their questions. They have new ideas that are out-of-the-box.
There are quite a few trends, strategies and styles that have evolved from when I started playing in 2005. One thing is for sure - if you master your technical ability, then you can experiment around.
Life or cricket, if you go by the RP Singh manual, is a learning process. “ Discipline is an important lesson I learned through cricket. It applies not only bowling but also in real life situations. Yes, you must have determination and dedication - but, discipline is what gets you ahead.”