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Danny Batra’s Cricket dream come true

Meet Indian-Australian Danny Batra — member of the inaugural Australian Over-40s cricket team who will be playing the World Cup in Pakistan

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For the vast majority of cricketers, the dream of representing their country disappears almost as quickly as it begins, with most international cricketers having already been earmarked for greatness by the time they have entered their late teens. But for 44-year-old Sydneysider Danny Batra, it’s a dream that has just been fulfilled, through his recent selection for the Australian Over-40s international men’s team. Having recently returned from a tour of New Zealand, and with an Over-40s World Cup looming in Pakistan in September, Danny’s story is evidence that it’s never too late to chase the dream.

Born in India, and as the son of cricket-fanatic parents, it is no surprise that cricket runs in Danny’s blood. That love affair only blossomed further once he and his family moved to Australia in 1984, and soon enough, Danny was playing representative cricket, modelling his game on childhood heroes such as Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh.

It’s a duality that Danny wouldn’t trade in for anything.

“I’ve been blessed to have both cultures embedded in me,” says Danny. “I think the balance of being born in India and going back to India regularly, but having been raised in Australia, has helped with my cricket. It’s given me the Indian extreme of passion for the game, but with the Aussie grit and grind”.

But, even for Danny, who works as an IT structure manager for Australia’s largest private property developer, the significant time commitment cricket became too much at one point, forcing him to give up competitive Saturday cricket. But Danny kept in touch with cricket through Last Man Stands (LMS), a globally popular format of T20 cricket that

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concludes in just two hours. “[LMS] got me out there playing cricket, and from there, I just kept my body and mind fit. Diet is a big thing as well – you can’t be eating rubbish all the time!”

While Danny boasts a nearly unparalleled LMS record – with a Bradmanesque average of 100 at a strike rate of 163, and nearly 250 wickets to boot – Danny’s journey to international honours truly began when he and some friends formed an Over-40s Masters team for the Strathfield Cricket Club.

The team has dominated the competition, having won two premierships in a row and, even more impressively, remaining undefeated to date in the last two seasons. It’s a ride that has seen Danny rewarded for his performances with selection in state, national, and ultimately, the inaugural Australian Over-40’s side.

It’s a moment that neither Danny, nor his two sons, aged 8 and 10, will ever forget. “When we found out, they were ecstatic,” says Danny. “My eldest is an absolute cricket fanatic, he’s playing representative cricket at the moment. He was over the moon, it just showed him it’s never too late – you can always represent your country at whatever age. Age doesn’t matter, just give it your best – that’s what I want to pass on my boys.”

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The first assignment as an Australian international representative came on a recent tour of New Zealand, where Danny played against former international cricketers Hamish and James Marshall, the latter being Danny’s first international wicket. But even in that moment, Danny was struck by what he enjoys most about Masters cricket: the camaraderie. “When James got out and went off the field, he went across and started playing with my kids, giving them tips on their game. It’s that side that you don’t see of international cricketers, they still give so much back to the game,” recalls Danny.

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A strong performance in New Zealand has further strengthened Danny’s credentials as a key member of the Australian side, with just 6 months to go until the inaugural Over-40s World Cup scheduled to kick off in Karachi, Pakistan. To Danny, it’s a destination that brings excitement but also a sense of the unknown. “Being Indian, you hear about rivalries in India v Pakistan matches, but Pakistan is a sport and cricket-loving nation, just like India. I’m excited to go there and play there. It’s a country you probably wouldn’t normally make plans to visit, but this coming up on the radar makes it exciting,” says Danny.

With all international Masters matches streamed live on YouTube, we’ll be seeing a lot of Danny Batra in this World Cup year – and it’s safe to say, bowlers will be seeing a lot of him too.

Read More: Up close and personal with the King: Virat Kohli

Ritam Mitra
Ritam Mitra
Ritam is an award-winning journalist and lawyer based in Sydney. Ritam writes on domestic and global politics, human rights and social justice, and sport.

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