|Jharkhand Ranji coach Subroto Banerjee (top) who trains Tendulkar’s son Arjun in Mumbai
The country’s Bharat Ratna and god for millions of fans across the world, Sachin Tendulkar credits his success to boyhood mentors, his elder brother Ajit and his first coach Ramakant Achrekar.
Now that Sachin’s 14-year-old son and budding cricketer Arjun seems to be a chip off the old block, he also has a mentor. And it is none other than former Jharkhand Ranji coach Subroto Banerjee, a familiar face in Jamshedpur.
Banerjee (45), a swing exponent and medium pacer, has taken Arjun, who studies in Dhirubhai Ambani International School and plays for Khar Gymkhana, Mumbai, under his wing this summer on Sachin’s insistence.
Few know that Banerjee is good friends with Sachin since the time both were young lads and part of Team India for the 1992 tour of Australia.
“I played a Test in the tour Down Under where Sachin and I became good friends. The bond remained,” Banerjee said over phone from Nagpur where he is currently a coaching consultant for Vidarbha Cricket Association. “So, when Sachin asked me if I could mentor Arjun, I said yes. He told me to train Arjun for a couple of years and see how he develops as a medium-pacer.”
“Sachin ek acche dost aur acche insaan hain. Main unhe na to keh hi nahin sakta (Sachin’s a good friend and a good human being. I can’t say no to him),” Banerjee, who stays at Sachin’s home in London near Madame Tussauds when he visits the city, said.
So, how is the son of the world’s arguably most revered cricketer shaping up?
“Arjun looks promising,” Banerjee said. “He’s a left-arm seamer, a quick learner. He knows well that his dad is a legend but he enjoys his own game.”
He should know, after spending two weeks in June with Arjun in London, where weather conditions are perfect for fast bowling. “Arjun is swift. He seems serious about taking up seam bowling as a career. He has swift bowling action like Zaheer Khan. And yes, in London I worked with Arjun where he played a charity match. He batted and bowled well.”
Expectations can be overwhelming for Sachin’s son. “But Arjun stays cool and focussed,” Banerjee said. “He is keen to play against his father and take his wicket.”
Arjun played his first U-13 tournament in Pune in 2010. He’s also played for Mumbai Under-14 in the West Zone leg matches of the BCCI.
In 2011, Arjun scalped 8 for 22 against Jamnabhai Narsee School with his left-arm pacers while turning out for Dhirubhai Ambani International School. The following year, he smashed his first century for Khar Gymkhana in an U-14 tie.
“As a coach, I am enjoying my stint with Arjun,” Banerjee said.
While coaching the son, Banerjee said there was a lot to learn from the father even off the field.
“We were at the terrace of Sachin’s new home in Bandra, Mumbai, some two months ago, when he saw a crowd outside the gates waiting for him under the scorching sun. Sachin told me how uncomfortable they must feel in that weather and got the gates opened to let them in. He’s completely fuss-free,” said the loyal wingman.