Kerala gearing up for battle without its biggest ‘Warrier’

One of the joys of following the Kerala cricket team for most of the last decade has been watching this tall, lean medium-pace bowler in action.

He could swing the ball in most conditions, and where there is help, he would make it a nightmare for even strong batsmen.

Sandeep Warrier will be missed. His decision to move to Tamil Nadu has come as a body blow for Kerala, which already has had to deal with a terrible season.

Strong performance

He was one of the main reasons for Kerala to reach the semifinals for the first time in the Ranji Trophy history last year. He picked up 44 wickets from 10 matches.

One of his best spells came at India’s most adored ground — the Eden Gardens. In Bengal’s second innings, he took five for 33 off 21.5 overs.

It was a masterclass in swing bowling. That day at the press box, this correspondent had spent a considerable time answering questions about Warrier from the strong contingent of Kolkata-based reporters.

They wondered how come such a quality bowler didn’t graduate to the higher level (the IPL, to be precise). A few months later though, they got to report a few matches he played for Kolkata Knight Riders, as he got the break he richly deserved as a couple of pacers were injured.

Warrier proved KKR was right in backing him. Tamil Nadu is also likely to feel the same when the domestic season begins after the COVID-19 crisis.

Playing for a strong team like Tamil Nadu will help Warrier progress further. In fact, he had been approached by the neighbouring State a year ago.

Kerala’s cricket administrators are likely to be disappointed, but they need to introspect whether Warrier is to be blamed.

Unhelpful wickets

Kerala rarely prepared wickets that encouraged the seamers, though they have been the team’s strength for the last many years. The team management rather preferred square turners.

A few seasons ago, he was dropped from the Ranji team for some matches, while he was being considered as one of India’s brightest pace-bowling prospects.

The go-to man

Warrier, however, didn’t allow such setbacks to affect him. He soon established himself as Kerala’s go-to bowler.

Tamil Nadu should benefit from such resilience, and such skills with the cricket ball.

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