Vinay Kumar-Rise and rise of an auto driver’s son!

R Vinay Kumar

Having been let loose for a couple of days by the management of his IPL side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, R Vinay Kumar, a welcome inclusion in the Indian team for the World T20 bash in the West Indies, had chosen to go for a long drive in his favourite Santro car, mostly in a bid to escape the tensions that has always enveloped him and his family as and when a national selection committee meeting comes about.

But, had this scene taken place a few years earlier, in place of a car, he could well have been moving about in an autorickshaw instead, not the usual hired one but the one driven by his dad Ranganath to keep the family fire burning. It was in the late 1990s, as a 13-year-old, that Vinay’s talent was first spotted, ironically as a batsman. His father wasn’t raking in the money by any chance but still encouraged his ward to play the game.

COMING GOOD: While the talk ahead of the series was revolving around India’s strength in spin bowling, Vinay Kumar showed how effective a swing bowler could be in the subcontinent. Photo: S. Subramanium

“My parents have sacrificed a lot for me. We weren’t financially strong and me being the eldest it was my duty to take care of them. But looking at my interest in the game, they encouraged me to continue playing. They never made me feel guilty about the fact that I wasn’t helping them in running the family,” an emotion-filled Vinay told TOI on Friday.

“Once we realized he had talent, we didn’t have the heart to stop him from playing. It was tough but we did what we had to do,” said his father.

“Being a sportsman myself (he used to dabble in athletics and kabaddi) I understood his needs. And he was never short of encouragement, our family chipped in, my friends helped and his coach Prakash sir provided the cricket equipment,” said Ranganath, who is also proud that he could provide all his three kids with education.

“Actually I don’t how we managed. I drove my auto day and night and before I realized it, Vinay and his sister completed their BCom degrees while my second son will do the same soon,” added Ranganath.

All that of course has changed in the last three years. Since his Karnataka Ranji Trophy debut in 2004-05, thanks to the BCCI opening its purse strings to First Class cricketers as well, Vinay’s financial problems have been taken care of and he wasted no time in getting his family to move to Bangalore from Davangere, a South-Central Karnataka town some 260 km from here. And yes, there is no more driving autos for his father. Instead he can sit back and proudly watch his son take the long flight to the Caribbean.

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