New Delhi: 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw in his Test debut against West Indies scored over a century earlier in October. Shaw’s astonishing performance was praised by many cricketers and cricket fans all over the world.
Another U-19 cricketer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored a century in U-19 Asia Cup also became the talk of the town in August, but the person behind the engineering of two promising cricketers is still under the shadows.
Jwala Singh, the coach of these up-and-coming cricketers, in a conversation with DB Post shares the story behind their journey.
“Shaw has backing from his father, I only helped in improving his game and mentored him, while Yashasvi was trained by me from an initial level since there’s no one to guide him.”
When Singh saw young Yashasvi Jaiswal playing a cricket tournament once, he was shocked to see his stunning performance at such a tender age. After the match ended, Singh called the boy and asked him about his past achievements. When the boy told him of his achievements Singh felt that he was bragging, and asked him to bring his documents.
Jaiswal visited Singh on the given date with proofs of his achievement. Singh reminisces, “He has played only two matches but his performance was brilliant and covered by local media. When I asked him about problems, his eyes welled up. People had told him ‘nobody will allow you to play since you have no one to support in Mumbai’. At that time, he was filled with negative thoughts and living in a public tent with daily wagers all around. Jaiswal’s parents went back to their village Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh, as the family was not so much aware of his game and have no role to play.”
After going through the story of Jaiswal, Singh recalled his struggling days when he had come to Mumbai to become a cricketer.
23 years ago, in 1995, Jwala Singh, 35 now, travelled to Mumbai to become a cricketer, but fate had something different for him in its store. After coming to Mumbai, Singh’s father supported him as much as he could. He had two elder brothers, one got married. But he stopped taking an allowance from his father and started struggling on his own.
Singh recalled, “I used to sleep on footpaths, open grounds, and railway stations for two years. I have lived in a small dairy shop also, and I have spent another three years living in a gym, where it was compulsory for me to leave the gym premises during the workout hours which was 5am to 9am and 4pm to 9pm. I usually spent those hours sitting on footpaths even in worst times when I had a high fever. I lived in 21 different places in Mumbai over a period of three years and I travelled five kilometres every day on foot with my kit to reach railway stations.”
Singh joined Ramakant Achrekar cricket school and later played several matches including junior level tournaments. According to him, he was one of the highly talented cricketers in junior level at that time and most of the cricketers including Zaheer Khan has practised with him.
During the hardships, several people supported Jwala, including a local company and few people from UP who were working in Mumbai as security guards by giving a small donation from their salaries.
When asked why he supported Yashasvi, Singh said, “I visualised the talent in Yashasvi, I struggled through the same situations in which he was. After I switched to cricket coaching it was always in my heart that I will build a successful player who can fulfil my dream of playing for the country’s cricket team”.
Following the first meeting, Singh asked Yashvi to start practising under his guidance and a few days later he took him to his home.
In 2015, Prithvi Shaw started improving his game under Singh, which also impacted Jaiswal and helped him to revamp. According to Singh, both Shaw and Jaiswal used to discuss together their game, they gave healthy competition to each other.
Talking about his family, Singh said: “There are four members in our family, me, my wife, my daughter and Yashasvi. Now Yashasvi is a part of our family”.
Now, Jwala Singh believes he is gradually achieving his dream through Prithvi and Yashasvi. He believes that he has the capacity to train more players like these two promising cricketers, for the national cricket team.
“I believe, in next few years Yashasvi will also play for the Indian cricket team,” Singh signed off saying.
Jwala Singh is from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh and currently living in Mumbai with his family. Singh runs a cricket academy, Mumbai Cricket Club under Jwala Foundation in Santacruz, Mumbai.
(Story by Shaihzad Abid)