‘I was in a bad way.’ ‘Your father would’ve wanted you to achieve five-for,’ Ravi sir said. For Mohammed Siraj, India’s trip to Australia in 2020/21 was bittersweet. Siraj made his Test debut at the MCG on Boxing Day and claimed a five-wicket haul at the Gabba, making it a memorable trip for the cricketer. However, it wasn’t all roses for me.
Siraj’s father Mohammed Ghaus died of a long-term lung condition just before the tour began, and the India pacer couldn’t even travel home to attend his burial due to the strict quarantine measures in place.
Siraj sought warmth and solace in none other than his India coach when everything looked lost for him. Ravi Shastri, who has long claimed to be the players’ older brother, was the one who helped Siraj regain his footing.
In a subsequent interview, Siraj said how Shastri’s remarks gave him the desire and courage to go on and overcome tragedy. Siraj eventually chose to stay, but admits it wasn’t an easy decision. Siraj often found himself battling conflicting thoughts as a result of the Covid protocols in Australia and the mental toll that being in hard quarantine takes.
“When my father died, Ravi sir came to my aid. ‘See Miyan, your father would have wanted you to take five wickets on this trip,’ he remarked. I was distraught, sad, and emotional. I was baffled as to what was going on. On his programme ‘Backstage with Boria,’ Siraj told Boria Majumdar, “We were under strict quarantine.”
“I couldn’t decide if I should return home or remain here and achieve my father’s goal.” Then I realised that if I had returned, I would have had to go through quarantine there as well. As a result, I decided it would be best to stay in Australia and fulfil my father’s ambition. During that moment, my father’s desire gave me strength.
I was really lost. We were only able to stay in one room due to quarantine regulations. But I recall that it was also what toughened me up and given me the strength to cope with everything.”
Siraj’s big moment came in the second Test, when he made his debut for India in whites at the G. Siraj took five wickets in the last Test at the Gabba in Brisbane, and then went on to take his first five-wicket haul.
“It seemed like a dream as I walked onto the ground in Melbourne. People have always stated that the MCG Boxing Day Test is enormous, and I was there. It was a dream come true to be a part of it and get your Test hat. I couldn’t control my emotions, and I kept thinking about how delighted my father would have been if he had been there,” Siraj said.