It was a typical Bengaluru morning in November 2017 when Stuart Binny emerged from the Alur basement to take a sprint around the Golden Oval. Not accompanied by anyone, he took three laps around the venue before being joined by his long-standing teammate Shreyas Gopal. He was the first to train that day and was one of the last members to leave the ground after a long and arduous day for Delhi bowlers in the 2017 Ranji Trophy. On a day that went about witnessing some of the gorgeous strokes from Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey, Binny painted an ever-lasting image in my head.
I can’t claim to be knowing Stuart Binny closely but our limited interactions during few press conferences in domestic cricket have provided a sneak peek into his character. Throughout his cricketing career, Binny was an eternal optimist and believed in good karma. He always understood that there was no trade-off for hard work. It was this mindset that allowed him to be - briefly yet incandescently - a glorious figure of Indian cricket in Dhaka on Jun 17, 2014.
To contextualize Binny’s impact that night, it is only fair that we go back a few days back to a Mushfiqur Rahim press conference. India had sent a second-string side to Dhaka, under the leadership of Suresh Raina, and rested eight of its regular players including MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was not amused by it and wanted to take it up as a challenge to beat the neighbors’ apathy towards them as a cricketing nation.
"We have a chance to give a reply on the field. There is extra motivation. They haven't invited us yet so if we do well in this series, it sends a message. We have defeated their best team in the past. They have a young team, and despite the standard of the IPL, international cricket is a more difficult stage. And one should not forget that if they lose, India will lose, not India A. The pressure will be on them,” Mushfiqur said ahead of the series.
However, it only turned out to be a false start for the hosts and Binny became the saviour for India on a historic night.
At the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, the crowd can really get to your nerves. And as India bundled out for a paltry 105 thanks to a Taskin Ahmed carnage, ignominy was right on the doorstep. Something had to give in and with cloud cover around, it was down to the duo of Mohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav to shine. Could they have sustained the momentum and guided the Indian side to some sort of respectability or was it going to be 1-1? To answer everything in one go, thus emerged Stuart Roger Binny of Karnataka - a ridiculed figure for his slow run-up, for his simple action, and moreover, for the perceived notion of “conflict of interest”.
He didn’t give a damn about the world that day. It was a burst of energy and a simple idea of keeping things simple. "My strength is to bowl wicket-to-wicket and swing the ball. The conditions were ideal to bowl so I don't think I surprised myself,” He explained later.
That 6 wickets for a mere four runs not only helped India to one of their most famous wins but also a staggering reminder of his utility when things had gone awry. Before India discovered the all-round qualities of Hardik Pandya, Binny was a true representation of the modern Indian team’s changing psyche. He allowed MS Dhoni options and even rose to become a Test player for a while, most famously, his 78 against England being a frugal chapter in Indian cricket.
His retirement might go down as a non-eventful incident at a time when the England vs India Test series at a deadlock and the entire country is awaiting the resumption of the Indian Premier League, but Binny did more than enough to claim respect. He still has a lot to offer to Indian cricket and as he, himself, revealed his aspiration to become a coach. If his cricketing career has anything to go by, there is a fresh and successful chapter in his book pending yet.