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Ranadeep Moitra | One of Cricket's BIG Characters

Sports build characters. It surely does. A Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or Roger Federer have enriched sporting history by a capital E.

They all went through many trials and tribulations during the course of their career, and yet triumphed when odds were heavily stacked against them. They define what character is all about. And the very word befits them.

Cricketing history finds many names, some immortal and some obscure, who fought either diseases or disabilities. Bhagwat Chandrasekhar of India unleashed a barrage of wrong-uns with a right hand weakened by poliomyelitis. From Vivian Richards to Ray Illingworth all were bamboozled.

England’s Len Hutton notched up 14 of his 19 test hundreds with a broken left arm, which was badly reset, so much that it ended up an inch and a half shorter than the other one. But the mother of overcoming all the odds was scripted by India’s Yubraj Singh. His 2011 world cup heroics were enacted under an undetected cancerous state called lung seminoma. Post diagnosis he made a thunderous comeback. All these are true characters who find place in cricket’s hall of fame.

On the other side, very few would remember James Taylor of England. A rare form of heart disease called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARCV) put a halt to Taylor’s career at 26 yeas age. A resting heart rate of 250 beats per minute is truly heart breaking. But far from over Taylor is now a cricket administrator.
In this episode I unravel the story of an elegant Bengal southpaw called Ranadeep Moitra.

There is not much to write home about Ranadeep’s first class record. Just 5 first class matches. A paltry aggregate of 128 runs at an average of 25.60. When his career was about to blossom Ranadeep was diagnosed with a severe form of auto immune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. Before even settling down in the 22 yards this menacing disease had his stumps uprooted with excruciating pain around the low back and hip in 1987. Rheumatology was at its nascent stage in India in those times. Beating around the bush was obvious. The eventual diagnosis came after 3 long years.

In that moment of reckoning, with gloom and doom written all over, only a man with grit and conviction could turn it around. Yes, that’s what a character is made of. May be little in terms of name, big in defying odds. Ranadeep staged a remarkable comeback, though very brief, to the Bengal first class team in 1992. He played alongside Bengal’s most illustrious son Sourav Ganguly. But the hammering his hip and spinal joints got from the disease made it difficult to survive a four day match. The joint would inflame and stiffen up during the course of the match.

Suddenly Ranadeep disappeared from the scene. May be to hide his pain, both physical and missing the game. He resurfaced in 2003. Now exercise and exercise books became his new love. Regular exercise and mobilization of the joints was the lifeline for survival against the disease. The books were to self educate. Sourav Ganguly got fascinated by his training skill. Soon he slipped into the shoe of Team India’s trainer. Afterwards Ranadeep became India’s first certified strength and conditioning coach from the NSCA.

The man is happily married with a bright daughter and runs his own chain of gyms. The painful state and disease is irreversible. But then, Ranadeep’s character too is irresistible.