Mohammed Siraj has been an integral part of India’s pace battery since the epochal tour to Australia during the 2020-21 season. But that position has not come without its share of struggles.
Siraj was in Australia for his first Test tour when his father, Mohammed Ghaus, passed away, and had to tackle the emotional phase to concentrate on cricket on that trip.
While speaking on RCB Podcast, Siraj said he would cry in his room often while staying inside the bio-bubble and also detailed how he handled the racism episode on that Down Under tour.
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“In Australia, nobody could visit other players’ rooms as we spoke on video calls. But Sridhar sir (former India fielding coach R Sridhar) used to call often asking how are you, what have you eaten, etc. It was a good feeling and my fiance was also talking to me (over the phone) at that time. I never cried on the phone but there were occasions when I would cry in the room and then will talk to her later,” said Siraj.
Siraj, who is celebrating his 29th birthday on Monday, said then head coach Ravi Shastri also encouraged him a lot.
“I went to training the next day after my father’s demise and Ravi Shastri told me that I have my dad’s blessing and I will take a five-wicket haul. When I took five wickets in Brisbane, he told me: ‘Look, what did I tell you that you will take five wickets.’
“It was a lot of fun when my dad was around because he wanted to see his son’s success. He took a lot of pride and joy in seeing me putting all the hard work. I always wanted to perform in front of my dad, and the dream did come true but how I wish I could do it more,” said Siraj.
Siraj was subjected to racial abuse by a section of the crowd during the third Test at Sydney and the pacer said the team was determined to get the abusers evicted from the stands.
“When I was called black monkey and things like that in Australia, I ignored them on the first day, thinking the people were drunk. But when it happened on the second day I decided to go up to the umpires and complain about racism and I conveyed it to Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) who went to the umpires.
“So, the umpires told him you are free to leave the ground till the matter is settled. But Ajju bhai said: ‘We respect cricket and why should we leave the ground? But remove those people who are abusive and why should we leave the ground? We then focused on cricket as people will keep saying all these things,” said Siraj.
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