Akash Deep’s years of hardwork paid off as he gets maiden test call

Akash Deep tells the tale of his ascent from a Bihari background devoid of cricket to the top level of.

During Bengal’s Ranji Trophy match against Kerala in Thumba, Akash Deep had just ended a stint and was standing on the boundary when the entire Bengal team burst into applause, praising him. Due to his success in red-ball cricket for Bengal and India A during the previous season, he was rewarded with his first call-up to the India Test squad for the final three matches against England.

Akash Deep gets maiden test call

From his hotel room in Thumba, Akash Deep tells PTI, “I was hopeful that in the near future I might get a Test call-up if I keep performing but I didn’t expect that it would come by the third match itself.”

It was the most recent advancement in the career of 27-year-old Akash Deep, who began as a star tennis-ball all-rounder in Bengal’s Durgapur before moving on to play first-division cricket in Kolkata, the Under-23s, and ultimately first-class cricket. He has also participated in the Indian Premier League for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Akash Deep, a 15-year-old student at Sasaram Government School in Bihar, would have laughed if someone had told him he would become a professional cricket player.

“In Bihar [suspended by the BCCI at the time], there was no platform and especially from the place where I came from, Sasaram, playing cricket was a crime,” says Akash Deep. Many parents would advise their kids not to hang out with Akash since he just plays cricket and it would be detrimental to their academic performance.

“I don’t blame them, though. In such a setting, what would you have accomplished by playing cricket? You would be squandering time, not even succeeding as a cricket player, and neglecting academics. They were worried that it would destroy your future. My parents were also in this category.”

Regarding Akash Deep’s father, he desired that his son take tests in order to secure a position in the government.

My father used to suggest, ‘Appear for the Bihar police constable exams, or at least try for the Class IV staff [peons] in the state government,” Akash Deep recalls. “He would complete such paperwork for government jobs, and I would go take examinations and return with blank forms. Even though cricket was my love, I never considered turning it into a career—I simply wanted to be happy.”

After tragedy struck again in six months, everything changed.
His older brother, who left behind two young kids, passed away after his father.

“Within six months, both my father and brother passed away. I was driven by the need to provide for my family and felt that I had nothing to lose,” Akash Deep explains. He was able to join a Durgapur club with the assistance of a friend, but his main source of income was tennis-ball cricket.

“I would represent my club in legitimate leather-ball contests, but at first there was no funding. I would play tennis ball matches around the district three or four days a month, earning Rs 6000 a day. I could then pay my bills with my monthly salary of $20,000.

“I never had a bus that was fixed. I have had assistance from Saurasish Lahiri, the current assistant coach of Bengal, Arun Lal, and Rano [Ranadeb Bose], and I have learned everything I could.”
In two recent four-day matches against the England Lions, Akash Deep claimed 11 wickets, including two four-wicket hauls. He now has 103 wickets from 29 first-class games.

My stock delivery is in the inswing, but to compete at this level, you also need to have the outswing and reverse swing, and most importantly, manage the swing,” he states. “I was in the ODI squad in South Africa and realised that more than skill, at this level, it is more about mental strength of being able to execute plans under pressure.”

Another Bengal fast bowler, Mukesh Kumar, will be Akash Deep’s partner in the Indian Test team.

“This is a matter of pride that myself and Mukesh bhai will be in the Indian dressing room together in a Test team,” says Akash Deep. “We live in Bengal, a state that has given us everything. This national call-up is how I want to thank Bengal for everything.”

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