Prithvi Shaw, Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan: The inspiring story of one school and three fathers

Prithvi Shaw (left), Sarfaraz Khan (centre) and Armaan Jafeer’s hunger and consistency for scoring runs has brought them in the limelight. While Armaan and Sarfaraz already made their way into the Mumbai Ranji probables list, Prithvi is making rapid strides in school cricket. Photo Courtesy: DNA

Prithvi Shaw, Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan are the country’s most talked about school cricketers who have grabbed the eyeballs with their amazing batting efforts. Nishad Pai Vaidya explores their tales and the sacrifices made by their respective fathers.

In the 1980s, a teenaged Sachin Tendulkar dominated school cricket by plundering big runs and making headlines with his mind-boggling achievements. Since then, batting prodigies in school cricket often get labelled as the “next Tendulkar — the latest being 14-year-old Prithvi Shaw, who smashed 546 for Rizvi Springfield in Mumbai’s Inter-school Harris Shield earlier this week.

Shaw captured attention even before his monumental 546. The young boy has come through a lot in life as he had to deal with the demise of his mother at a very young age. Since then, his father, Pankaj, and he have been chasing a dream. At the age of 12, he scored 92 for Sachin Tendulkar XI against a Madhya Pradesh unit. In 2011, he also featured in the documentary Beyond the Boundaries by Sushrut Jain. Those were his initial steps as he has gone on to record massive scores in school cricket and also travelled to England to play on a scholarship.

Earlier this month, Shaw smashed 109 in a Kanga League ‘A’ division match, where he honed his skills along-side grown-ups. These feats at such a young age not only speak of immense talent, but also of his temperament and self-belief. In the process, he bettered the feats of his more famous seniors at Rizivi Springfield — Sarfaraz Khan and Armaan Jaffer.

Sarfaraz shot to limelight with a score of 439 in the Harris Shield, beating Tendulkar’s record in the same competition. His immense hunger and consistency has seen him don the India under-19 jersey at the age of 15. And he hasn’t disappointed. During a quadrangular series encounter against South Africa under-19s in Visakhapatnam in September this year, he smashed 101 off only 66 balls batting at No 6. His blitz ensured India overhaul the target of 271 after they were in a spot of bother at 93 for four in the 16th over. A few days down the line, he then smashed 67 against the same opposition in the final of the tournament.

That didn’t stop there as the prolific run spilled into domestic cricket as well. In the Vinoo Mankad Trophy, he recorded scores of 155 not out, 105 not out and 95 during his four match stay with Mumbai under-19. That won him a call-up for the Mumbai under-25 side and there is a lot for him to achieve in the future. Behind him, is his dedicated father, Naushad Khan, who has already mentored numerous First-Class cricketers. Naushad wants his son to maintain focus and concentrate on the job at hand, “There is no point thinking about the future. Cricket is a game that is played in the present. You are known by what you are today. It’s Sarfaraz’s job to keep getting runs and leave the rest to the selectors. The selection matters are not in his hands but scoring runs definitely is.”

Meanwhile, Kaleem Jaffer is another father who tirelessly trains his son to mould him into a good cricketer. Having already moulded his brother Wasim, the Mumbai stalwart, Kaleem wants his son Armaan to aim for bigger things. Armaan made a big spalsh when he smashed 498 in the Inter-schools Giles Shield game and then scored 473 in a Harris Shield encounter. During the Vijay Merchant Under-16 Trophy last season, he scored over 1,000 runs for Mumbai. His scores read: 27, 143 not out, 60, 52, 43, 136, 71 and 290.

That immense hunger is reminiscent of his uncle Wasim, who has a reputation of scoring big in domestic cricket. Kaleem saw his brother Wasim play for India and hopes Armaan does the same. He told CricketCountry, “I hope Armaan represents India for a long time and wins matches for the country.”
When you read these stories, you find one common link. Not only are they from the same school, but they have this one unshakable figure behind them — their fathers. If these boys have gone on to make a name in school and age group cricket, it is due to their respective fathers’ fierce commitment to their careers. Such dedication and passion is a great motivation for these young boys and when you have someone who shares your dream, you have the extra power to go an achieve it.

But, such intense training starts from a very young age and you can find such men devoting their time to their young sons. Naushad’s youngest son, Musheer is already making waves at the age of eight. Two years ago, he became the youngest boy to play in the Giles Shield at the age of six. Today, he is the youngest to play the Kanga League. Not only that, but he also dismissed Yuvraj Singh during an exhibition game this year. The boy is moving from strength to strength and as Sarfaraz is mostly away from home, travelling with the age group sides, Naushad spends a lot of time in the nets with Musheer. He has also laid an astroturf in his backyard so that his sons can practice at any hour of the day.

And one from Kerala…

Miles away from Mumbai, in the green state of Kerala down south, Rajesh Kumar trains his nine-year-old son Krishna Narayan every day. At the age of four, Krishna became a rage on YouTube as his batting videos reflected unbelievable talent. Wearing small pads and facing the plastic ball, the toddler showed amazing hand-eye co-ordination and footwork — unimaginable for someone so young. Since then, he has shown great improvement and is making steady progress. Rajesh and coach Biju George kept training him as Krishna gradually moved to play with the leather ball. Recently, he played for Kannur District under-14 team. Rajesh even quit his full-time job to give more time to his son’s cricket and has also constructed a net near his house.

… and another from Haryana

One has also heard tales of a nine-year-old Sagar Dahiya from Sonepat, Haryana. Reportedly he faces deliveries over 150 kmph in the nets.

Such tales are inspiring, although most are still budding for possibly something big. What does one feel when one hears these stories? There is of course some awe and a bit of disbelief. But, somewhere down the line, there is hope. For the millions out there, the cricketers who play for the country are role-models, but these young boys can also be an example for many because of their hard-work. Here are boys like any other, but have the will to chase what they want. That should be motivation enough for others, although what the future has in store, no one knows!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)