The Bengal player Akash Deep has earned his Test call-up for the last three Tests against England. He has come in place of Avesh Khan. It came on the back of a stunning domestic season where he picked up 103 wickets in 29 matches for Bengal since making his debut in 2019 as well.
“I was hopeful that in the near future I might get a Test call-up if I keep performing but I didn’t expect that it would come by the third match itself,” Akash told PTI. “Inswing is my stock delivery, but at this level, you need to have outswing and reverse swing and more importantly need to control the swing. I was in the ODI squad in South Africa and realised that more than skill, at this level, it is more about mental strength of being able to execute plans under pressure.”
The veteran pacer finds himself at a stage in his career that he always wished for himself, but the road wasn’t easy. When he was 15 and aspiring to play the game, life wasn’t easy as well.
“In Bihar [suspended by the BCCI at the time], there was no platform and especially from the place where I came from, Sasaram, playing cricket was a crime. Lots of parents would ask their children not to mingle with Akash as he only plays cricket and your studies would go for a toss. But I don’t blame them. What would you have achieved playing cricket in a place like that? You would be wasting time and not even become a cricketer, and also ignore academics. Your future would be ruined and they were worried. So, were my parents,” Akash revealed.
“Appear for Bihar police constable’s exams or at least try for state government’s Class IV staff [peons], my father used to say. He would fill up those government job application forms and I would go for exams and come back submitting blank forms. In my mind, while cricket was my passion, I just wanted to be happy and never thought about making it a career. My father and my brother died within six months. I had nothing to lose, and the motivation was that I had to take care of the family,” Akash Deep said.
He added, “I would play proper leather-ball matches for my club, but initially there was no money. So three to four days a month, I would play tennis-ball matches around the district and earn Rs 6000 per day. So I would earn 20,000 per month, which helped me run my expenses.”
In Rajkot, Akash Deep will walk into a dressing room where his fellow Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar is there as well.
“This is a matter of pride that myself and Mukesh bhai will be in the Indian dressing room together in a Test team,” Akash Deep said. “Bengal is our state and it has given us everything. This national call-up is my way of showing my gratitude to Bengal.”