Today cricket is not viewed in isolation. In the age of social media, there is far greater interaction between players and fans. The participation of all stakeholders has increased manifold. Fan pages, official player handles, franchise team outreach and real-time information dissemination have made players much more accessible. All of this has given rise to memes, banter, vines, trolling and positive criticism. Players like Jadeja have received the title of “Sir” from teammate Dhoni which has become wildly popular. Rohit Sharma as part of fan banter is called “Vada Pav” due to his undying love for Mumbai street food. Kohli’s nickname as “Chiku” has become popular amongst his youth fan base.
One player whose recent on-field and off-field exploits have made him electrifyingly famous among cricket fans is Shardul Thakur. His fan names include “Lord”, “Palghar cha Raja” and “Don”. The best part is that Shardul has enjoyed these names and also acknowledged the memes. 2021 would go down as the breakout year for him. we look at 4 reasons why the name “Don” is justified for him.
1. Fearless Brand of Cricket
Shardul Thakur’s hidden talents of batting and fielding have pleasantly surprised Indian fans. He was picked for the Gabba test because the Indian pace battery was down and injured. His role was primarily to swing the ball. However, in the first innings of India’s batting was tottering at 186 for 6. Australia was staring a lead of more than 200 but they encountered Don’s resistance. Shardul started his innings with a six and brought up his 50 with a six. He put up a 123 runs partnership with Washington Sundar for the 7th wicket. He played free-flowing drives, cuts, pulls and looked completely fearless. In the same match, he picked up 7 wickets too.
2. Creating Magic Moments
He is known to make things happen when nothing seems to happen. In the just-concluded 4th test that India won at Oval, India was at a similar position like they were in Gabba. India was just about 110 runs when they had lost the majority of wickets and all hope was lost. Lords seemed like a fluke. Fans had given up. Walked in the ”Lord” who scored a 57 in 36 balls having the second fastest 50 in England. He followed that up with a quick-fire 60 from 72 balls in the second innings. However, his real magic came up on the last day when he was the one who broke more than 90 runs opening partnership by removing Burns. Before that, the match seemed to go towards a draw. He then came back to remove the strongest barrier in form of Root.
3. Style Icon
Don Shardul always decided to do something different than his peers. The Indian team is filled with players who sport the beard unapologetically or players with a clean shave. The Lord decided to break the monotony and went with a smartly curated French beard. His running in with that style and running through the opponent batting lineup is a great sight to behold.
4. Toiling Hard
Indian fans love the underdog story especially when it’s one of them. Thakur embodies the hard work that personifies the Indian spirit. He used to travel nearly 100 km every day to play cricket in Mumbai from Palghar. Even after reaching a certain level of success, Thakur did not forget where he came from and still continues to travel by the local train. He also got his chance very late in life. He is 29 years old which is late by sporting standards. However, he has taken that in his stride is making the most of the opportunities he receives.