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Little Big Man

The Jesuits have a saying : “Give me the child at seven and I will show you the man”. Whatever Anish Param was at seven, at the age of fourteen he is already demonstrating the maturity and self-assurance of a seasoned cricketer.

Anish Edward Param made ACC history in November 2004 by being the youngest ever cricketer to represent his national side when Singapore took on Malaysia in the Fast Track Countries Tournament. He was 14 years, 3 months and 16 days old. It was not the first time he’d been away from home to play sport, but it was the first time he’d been away where some team-mates, let alone opponents, were old enough to be his father.

So how did it feel being a boy amongst men? “It’s a big jump to the seniors. I was a little nervous and especially on the first day felt a bit apart from my team, but my captain (Buddhika Mendis) made it a point after the first day to try and blend me into the team atmosphere.”

A chunky left-hander who bats in the middle-order for his school and age-group category, with a top-score of 112, Anish had long been spotted as one to watch by the Singapore Cricket Association. The Singapore senior side is generally quite young, made up of a number of college and university students.

With college examinations in Singapore in early November, a number of the regular seniors were unavailable for selection. Still, for Anish to be selected as a stop-gap “was quite a surprise”, he says. “It was something I didn’t expect to happen for a couple more years.” Batting at Number 11, he faced four balls to remain undefeated in Singapore’s first innings and bowling his left-arm orthodox spin he took a wicket, “just after I had been hit for six!”

How did that make him feel? “Not good. But I knew I had to bowl what I wanted to the batsman again. It was actually a lucky ball to get the wicket next delivery, it just slipped out of my hand and the batsman sliced it high in the air….I was relieved”, he says, letting out a big sigh. History doesn’t record what the departing batsman, twice Anish’s age said, as he walked off.

Rohan Vishnu Suppiah, Malaysia’s vice-captain who played against Anish in that game confirms: “He’s a very good prospect and for someone to play for his country at the age of 14 speaks a lot about his talent and skills as a player. His bowling is very impressive. Bowling left arm around, he had a very good action with good rhythm and flight and loop. He held his nerve well, bowling to players like Suresh Navaratnam and Rakesh Madhavan. He has a wise head on young shoulders.”

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