VIKRAM SOLANKI THE RAJPUT IN ENGLISH RANKS 

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By FROM LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI in Nairobi
  • Published 7.10.00
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Nairobi, Oct. 7 :    Nairobi, Oct. 7:  England captain Nasser Hussain's roots are in Chennai and, now, keeping fingers crossed for the big break is Udaipur-born Rajput Vikram Singh Solanki. Solanki, 24, has already played a handful of one-dayers but it's the first Test cap that he is looking forward to. Indications are this right-handed middle-order bat won't have to wait an eternity. Courteous and absolutely down-to-earth, Solanki spoke to The Telegraph last evening. Following are excerpts On his Indian roots and what prompted the Solankis to migrate I lived the first eight years in Udaipur, where I was born and where my father (Vijay, now with Her Majesty's government) worked for Hindustan Zinc... My mother (Florabell) is of English origin... Our move to England wasn't premeditated, rather it's on a trip there, to visit mom's relatives, that my Wolverhampton-based aunt suggested I would be better off in England and that the family migrate. That set the ball rolling. On how quickly he settled down in a vastly different environment As a child one's memory is short and, really, it didn't take me long to find a new circle of friends... Father, of course, joined us later after even he got convinced England is where there would be more opportunities for me. On the early influences The very early influence was that of my father... I remember watching him play, even during our Udaipur days. I'm not sure, but it's possible he played representative cricket at some level in Rajasthan, probably as a junior... Later, at Worcestershire, Graeme Hick was a big influence. I was also in close contact with two of the County's overseas pros, Tom Moody and Glenn McGrath. On whether he idolised anyone I've been an admirer of Sachin Tendulkar, the Waugh brothers and Brian Lara - idolised is too strong a word... Now that I've got a slight taste of international cricket, I can appreciate just how gifted the top players are. I have nothing but the highest respect for the ones who've taken centrestage at the top level. On whether, as a youngster, he followed Indian cricket closely I wasn't the sort to stay home and be glued to telecasts. I was the type to actually myself go out and play... So, I didn't really follow any one team with a great degree of interest. Hardly knew anything about the Indians and, frankly, didn't know much about the England team either. On his thoughts when the first England call-up came (last season, for the South Africa tri-series) Having established myself at Worcestershire, like any other County cricketer, I had begun harbouring hopes of one day playing for England. I'd made the A team before but, still, it was a terrific moment when I joined the lads in South Africa. It did take a while, though, for it to sink that I was in the same dressing room as the Michael Athertons and Darren Goughs... On having already been branded a one-day specialist (Laughs) I'd love to play in both forms, for England... Having said that, I'll accept my one-day record isn't flamboyant. So, I need to make more of the chances I get. On how he goes about preparing for a big game Whatever I do, bottomline is to give myself the best chance. If there's something technical to be looked at, I go to the coaches - Duncan Fletcher (England) or Bill Athey (Worcester)... I've also worked with Martyn Moxon (assistant coach on this trip) and Mike Gatting (A side). Obviously, I work hard at my fitness... I do have my idiosyncrasies, but I'm not superstitious. On interests outside cricket I read a lot... Vikram Seth is my favourite and I haven't missed anything he has written... As we are close-knit, much of the time is spent with the family (in Wolverhampton). Finally, on whether he stays in touch with relatives in India Oh yeah, absolutely. Not just relatives, friends as well. Actually, a couple of the Delhi-based cricketers, Rahul Sanghvi and Murali Karthik, are good friends. My last India-trip was last year, when a friend and I went to Vaishno Devi. England visit India next season and I'm hoping to be in the tour-party. (Adds laughing) My Hindi, by the way, is pretty good.