After walking away, Poonam Raut will now happily talk about it. In the recent pink ball Test against Australia, the Sophie Molyneux floater bounced higher than expected and hit a wooden shove around the base of the bat’s handle before being caught by the keeper.
The commentator was incredulous when Poonam started walking back, took her hand out of the glove, and said in four different astonishing voices that she could call out “oh, she’s walking…. did she walk Is it? ..Wow, she’s walking…”
—cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 1, 2021
Raut is equally looking back. “I was sure the umpire would give out. Because it was outside!” she begins. “There was definitely a noise, though it was a faint top edge. I was so sure he would give up given that I didn’t look back for the first few steps. There have been times in domestic cricket that I was given out when I was not there. But this has never happened in my life. I don’t know how the umpire didn’t give it out,” she breaks out in a puzzled laugh.
The Test match was played without the Decision Review System (DRS) and the Australian players’ appeal to the on-field umpire went in vain until Raut departed.
—cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 1, 2021
“I mean, why would someone walk if they don’t?” She continues, trying to manipulate the cause of the kerfuffle and through the ‘spirit of cricket’ debate.
“There has to be a sense of cricket, right? We hardly get a chance to play (Test), so I think we forget why we enjoy playing this game, why we compete. You don’t want to cheat just to seal your space,” she says. “Look, I may forget the spirit here, but I really believe, the same situation in life returns when I’ll probably be given out when I’m not. I want to be clear about ‘fair and unfair’ and things.” At the same time, it’s just a game, not a war.”
He also has sympathy for the umpires, though he is still stunned that he didn’t see a raised finger between the appeals of the three close fielders and the bowlers. “It’s tough for umpires, they can’t see everything and sometimes the batsmen don’t move despite knowing. So the DRS was brought in for a not-out. But in my mind, what’s out there,” she declares.
Raut certainly understands the thin margins and cut-throat competition and doesn’t give an inch. And what he owes to the team. “Of course I understood the frustration of the teammates. Nobody likes to lose wickets. So when some people asked if I was sure it was out, I didn’t express anything to them, even when I was sure I was,” she says delicately.
It was a good left-handed ball, she insists, went inside, straightened and shot higher than she thought, and the face of the bat opened up more than she wanted.
It was not unprecedented. “I have seen Sachin (Tendulkar) walk. Once, Dhoni did not even look at the umpire and started walking back,” she recalls. “One wrong decision in a World Cup semi-final or final can cost a team dearly so I know it is a big moment. But what was out was out,” she insists about the overspun straighter.
It is in white-ball cricket, especially the upcoming ODI World Cup where Raut is now concentrating. There is a ruckus about his strike rate in limited overs cricket.
Raut, however, wants to stay “practical” and maintain ‘match winning’ the biggest currency in the game.
He said, ‘I know people like to see only fours and sixes in ODIs and T20s and not singles or doubles or strike-of-rotation. But I am sure they like to see the batsmen win matches just like the aggressive players. And if playing carefully or as per the situation is going to help the team win, and there are 50 overs available, then we should consume all the 50 overs,” she says.
She recalls an Indo-Pak group game in the 2017 World Cup, where India hit a score of 160. “It was a pressure game against Pakistan because if we lose then the criticism can be taken to the next level. Batting first, we made the mistake of trying to play aggressively on a pitch that didn’t help in that kind of game. That was a lesson for me,” she says. She scored top with 48 but it ranked.
Being a ‘comeback legend’ at 32, the lack of strike-rate doesn’t bother him that much anymore. After being out in the cold for a year, Raut made a comeback ahead of the last World Cup, and continues to draw inspiration. From her father, who says it was never easy in her life in Mumbai.
“Whenever I was trying to make a comeback, he told me directly that he wanted to see the same drive and determination as ‘u19 Poonam’. He was talking about being a fighter. He would know how much effort I put in. Was doing it because I used to train and leave to sleep exhausted. Whenever you give excuses for failure, it’s bad form. If you don’t make excuses, I know you will Trying,” she says.
Raut, who turned 32 on Thursday, says she has another year of top quality international cricket ahead of her. Yet, after marriage and completing a decade and a half in the top-flight sport, a certain balance has struck in her life. Persistent quarantine life has turned his attention to a new frontier: learning about the stock markets.
“Everyone should take responsibility for their own finances and not be dependent on anyone. And I learned a lot over the past year about different types of investments. I really like the days of quarantine while others get bored. Because I learn a lot from YouTube videos – from cooking to investing.”
She has always been a reader more than a music listener, and was currently watching through ‘Think Like a Monk’ by Jay Shetty. “But most of all, I keep going back to Viv Richards’ videos. I really like his strokes and I try to play something intentionally – from the backfoot over a cover. Her videos are fantastic and I never get bored,” she says.