Bangalore: Tilak Naidu was a name that kept falling on one"s ear, quite often in the past, but never did progress beyond that. For some unknown reason Naidu never got a peak in; although the word was that here was somebody with real potential as a keeper-bat.
Well, this young lad from Karnataka finally seems to have got a break and with that India"s problem to a wicketkeeper-batsman could just be round the corner.
Although Rahul Dravid has been putting up a much better show than was expected of him, it is time India looked at inducting a regular keeper-batsman (One-dayers).
The list of probables for the forthcoming training camp includes three keepers (Parthiv Patel, Ajay Ratra and Tilak Naidu). Thatscricket.com met up with one of them (Naidu) for a few minutes chat.
For starters, Naidu seemed elated when I congratulated him over the phone for having been included in the probables and later obliged to come over for an interview.
“It"s a good feeling. I think it is a good break for me. Now it is all up to me and I need to put up a good performance," was Naidu"s bubbly reply to how it felt on finally making it to the India camp.
However he feels this is the first step and he has a long way to go. But the fact that he is one among the top three keepers in India makes him feel good.
Naidu added, “Although I have been consistent with my performance in the Ranji Trophy, I have never got this kind of a break. Now it is up to me to utilise it."
He also feels that it is an open chance for all three. “We have the Challengers and anybody doing well stands a good chance."
Dwelling on his past he let us know that it all started for him when he went for the selection of his school team and “I immediately got selected without any hassles".
From then on Tilak Naidu got pretty serious with his cricket and started practicing with a lot of dedication. At the age of 15 Tilak played for state u-16, at the age of 17 he played state u-19 where he scored back-to-back hundreds.
“From there I played India u-19 against South Africa and that"s how it all started," said Naidu.
“Then I kept on going. In 97 I was again picked for the tour of South Africa (u-19) and then came the horror part. I mean it was a stop," Naidu sadly quipped.
Then for the next two years till almost 99 Naidu never got to play anything - any big-league cricket. He was stuck with the u-22 and u-25 cricket.
Then Naidu made his Ranji Trophy debut for Goa and got two hundreds in his first season and played purely as a bat for the first 15 games.
Tilak says most people talk of his batting because his batting is good and they forget about his keeping but he says he hasn"t forgotten his keeping. “I am good with both keeping and batting but I am better with my batting that"s all."
There actually is a communication gap feels Naidu. Like how most people mistake him for a player from either Hyderabad or Andhra (since his name is Naidu) he feels many people are not aware that he is a keeper first.
“So many cricketers and selectors are not aware that I am a keeper. They think I am a good batsman."
Naidu also feels this is the perfect age for any cricketer to break into the big league. “At 25 you are matured, you are experienced, you have done all the hard work. Now you have your head on your shoulders. Basically, you know what you have to do and what you can do."
Naidu feels his stint with the Australian Cricket Academy helped him a lot with his mental attitude. “They gave us some inputs about the attitude which was really good. It helped me a lot."
“Last season I have scored about 800-odd runs in the first class and I had the most number of dismissals." And Naidu has ACA to thank for it.
He finished off thanking the academy for playing their part in his cricketing life. “It showed in the character of my cricket. More than the cricket it was my character. I had a kind of a killer-instinct approach to the game. And that was due to the academy which helped me a lot. They believe in the killer-instinct attitude,"
Ever since his debut in the Karnataka side in the 1998-99 season Tilak has more than a 100 victims in first class cricket and with batting being his first love, his figures speak for themselves.