He was not even a teenager when Meerut lad Priyam Garg decided cricket will one day win him his bread and butter. Watching live matches on a mohalla TV set whetted his love for the game. They couldn’t afford a TV set at home as his father Naresh was selling milk, delivering newspapers and driving school vans to feed a family of six. The youngest among five siblings who lost their mother when he was 11, Priyam caught India coach Rahul Dravid’s attention with a double century for Uttar Pradesh against Gujarat in a Ranji Trophy preparatory game. In January, Priyam will lead India in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. He tells Soumitra Bose that his father’s support and the guidance of his coaches, especially Sanjay Rastogi and Kanaiyalal Tejwani, gave wings to his dreams. Excerpts from the interview:
How difficult was it to pursue cricket when you lost your mother?
It was devastating. I lost my focus. Dad pulled me back on track. He did everything possible to help me pursue my cricket. His positive attitude and ability to work hard are big lessons for me.
Mohammad Kaif and Virat Kohli, two of India’s four Under-19 World Cup-winning captains, made it big in life. What are you aims and ambitions?
I will take it step by step. We have a series in South Africa coming up. This will help us access the conditions before the World Cup begins. To win the Under-19 World Cup will be just great.
IPL riches or Test cricket?
Test cricket, without a doubt. That’s every cricketer’s goal.
You grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. Now you see Virat Kohli’s India. Do you notice any changes?
Sachin is my idol, but the culture of the current team impresses me. Their fitness levels and the team’s intensity are awesome.
So you want to become a captain like Virat?
Sourav Ganguly, M.S. Dhoni and Kohli are all great captains. But I want to be just me. The team’s balance is important and I am learning the virtues of process, behaviour and attitude from Rahul Dravid.