Yashasvi Jaiswal hated to get out as a kid, says coach and mentor

Jwala Singh feels like he is living his own dream as Yashasvi Jaiswal makes his Test debut

Yashasvi Jaiswal and coach Jwala Singh (photo: Jwala Singh)
Yashasvi Jaiswal and coach Jwala Singh (photo: Jwala Singh)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A Test debut against the West Indies is the culmination of what has been a dream season for young Yashasvi Jaiswal so far. The Indian team management, desperate to grasp that transition baton, wants to see what the right–left opening combination between captain Rohit Sharma and Jaiswal augurs for the team's future.

While it remains to be seen whether Yashasvi, one of the most precocious batting talents that Indian cricket has seen in recent times, can make the most of this opportunity—his childhood coach and mentor is already feeling the butterflies in his stomach. Jwala Singh, who is currently in England on an exposure trip for his academy Mumbai Cricket Club, cannot quite hide his excitement over his protégé's big break.

‘’It is as if I am living my own dream through him. It was nearly 27 years back when I left home in Gorakhpur of Uttar Pradesh, dreaming that I will play for the country one day. I did not have it in me, but the kid who is like a son to me has done it,’’ an emotional Singh said from England.

Jaiswal's rags-to-riches story, since he left Bhadoi in UP to set foot in Maximum City a decade back—from being an errand boy at a local club at the Azad Maidan to selling panipuris for a living—have been doing the rounds over the last four years since he broke into the limelight. However, Singh feels it’s time to discard this panipuri narrative and focus on his ward’s cricketing struggles instead.

Speaking to National Herald on the phone, Singh said, ‘’See, it was for a brief while that he didn’t have a place to stay or had helped out the local panipuri-wallahs to make an extra buck. The fact is, I had taken him home and he had stayed for a good nine years as a part of my family—where Yashasvi’s struggle was on the cricketing front more than anything else.’’

What was so special about the skinny lad, who was barely 11-and-a-half when the coach took him under his wings? ‘’There was nothing remarkable at such an young stage, except perhaps his determination to become a cricketer. What I liked was that, like me, he was also a southpaw and simply hated to get out, even at the nets. I took him to Wasim Jaffer, a good friend and then a stalwart of Mumbai cricket, who offered Yashasvi [one] simple advice: make scoring runs like a good habit,’’ the coach said.

The journey began under Singh’s watchful eyes—and it was an almost-360 degree development. ‘’Yashasvi had a knee injury and he aggravated it by jogging more under some random advice," Singh recalled. "[So] I took him to Nanavati Hospital for a consultation with Dr Ali Irani, a former Indian team physio. Coming from a remote area, he had low self-esteem and hardly spoke—these were also areas which me and my wife focused upon.

Yashasvi Singh and coach Jwala Singh practicing (Photo: Jwala Singh)
Yashasvi Singh and coach Jwala Singh practicing (Photo: Jwala Singh)
Jwala Singh

Recalling a batting drill that Singh often subjected Jaiswal to, he said there would be a separate net just for him—so that he could knock about for a longer period and practise against all forms of bowling. ‘’During the matches hosted by the academy, I wanted him to bat for a good 45 minutes on the matchday wicket before the action started with fielders in place, then during the lunch session and again at tea. This ensured that he would get around three hours of batting practice daily,’’ the coach said.

The break into the Indian team for the U-19 World Cup 2020 in Bangladesh, where he showed his maturity with a fine century against Pakistan, was certainly a tipping point in Jaiswal's career. ‘’That season, he scored a double century for Mumbai in Vijay Hazare Trophy and hit a purple patch, which prompted the Royals to offer him a handsome contract. I think the Royals have played a decisive part in his career and he vindicated their faith in him in IPL 2023,’’ Singh added.

International cricket, of course, will be a different ballgame and the 21-year-old will have a lot on his plate—in the shape of a sharp Caribbean new-ball attack from the experienced Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder. One has to wait and watch…

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