“In Australia, or in India, wherever I bowl, I want to put 100% effort to bowl.” said Mohammed Siraj after the first day of the fourth ENG vs IND test.
That’s Mohammed Siraj in a nutshell for you. Everything he does is done at 100% intensity. Nothing less. Every single ball, he ferociously sprints to the crease with smouldering speed. In his bowling action, his arms and legs flail around while he strains every ounce of muscle to absolute limit. The speed with which he does it all is a blur to the naked eye.
But it’s not just the body that is strained to the max, it’s the mind as well. A steely look of rugged effort and determination is permanently plastered on his face. Siraj is focused beyond belief. His mind is constantly scheming ploys with which he can uproot batsmen. Take today’s the dismissal of Root for example: Siraj bowled a batch of enticing away swingers which toyed with Root. He then hurled a 146 kph inducker that cannoned into his pad. You wonder whether Siraj can endure this exertion for a mere over. Let alone a whole match. And yet he does.
Siraj knows the struggle. He faced a poverty ridden childhood. He was smitten with cricket but had no clear cut path to fulfill his dream. Chances were few and far between. Siraj is the son of a humble auto rickshaw driver. He isn’t part of an influential family whose very name can carve out a world of opportunity. He had to grab all his chances or else his career would spiral into oblivion. The odds were constantly against him. But he made it.
By sheer weight of determination, Siraj achieved his goal but even then, his struggle continued: keyboard warriors mocked him for his mediocre IPL economy rate. Meanwhile his exemplary First Class feats were ignored. Siraj toiled and toiled on the domestic scene until he had his big break: he was picked for the 2020/21 tour to Australia. His hard work had paid off. But then disaster struck.
Siraj’s father had passed away. The man who dreamed of the day his son would play Test cricket would not be there to see him do it. Siraj had 2 choices: attend his father’s funeral and pass up an opportunity that he may never get again. Or go to Australia and fulfill his father’s dream. Siraj chose the latter and the rest, as we know, is history.
Mohammed Siraj doesn’t take chances for granted. It was how he made it to profesional cricket. It was why he decided to go on the Australia tour and became India’s leading wicket taker in their greatest series win ever. For him, every ball is an instrument with which he can express himself. Every game is a chance to shine. What Siraj learnt, and now taught us, is that to grab chances, you must give it all you got.