Hyderabad: It was a walk down the memory lane for Tarun Sai Nethula, the New Zeland leggie, as he stepped into the portals of his alma mater, St Andrew’s School, in Old Bowenpally on Monday afternoon. He was a student of the school’s 1999 batch. “This is the classroom where I used to sit,” he exclaimed pointing to a room which now houses a primary class. He was there at the invitation of his former coach John Manoj.
With the first Test match between New Zealand and India in Hyderabad ending in four days, he was able to squeeze in some time to visit his old school and catch up with his teachers. “There were very few classrooms but good sports facilities back in the 90s. That is the reason I like this school,” he told Ashish Emanuel, director of the school.
Tarun was surprised to learn that the school now has a strength of 7,500. “When I studied here, there used to be about 1500 in all! It’s a great feeling to be back here. It brings back so many fond memories. It looks quite different now. It is a lot bigger and better,” said Nethula in his address to the students.
The boys and girls cheered him on with gusto. During the visit, Tarun also met his batchmate Shabana, now an administrator in the school. In an introspective mood, he said, “as I look back I think about the innocence of a teenager and what it meant to be involved with friends, to spend time with them. My teammates always knew that I was from Hyderabad but they didn’t realize I had so many relatives and friends here. It is a bit surprising for them that I could be so well-known in this part of the world.”
How does it feel being a New Zealander? “I’m still the same Telugu-speaking Hindu South Indian. Nothing much has changed,” he asserted.
Tarun had played cricket for the school and won for it a trophy too. Recalling those days, he remembered one particular boy, Nasir of the Nasr School. “He was a prolific scorer and used to notch up big scores every time he played against us. Then I was in Class IX. The next year, however, I got his wicket in every match,” he said.
On how he became a legspinner, he said: “Once I bowled my leg spinners at a camp and Shailendra Sir saw me. He asked me to bowl again and again. After the fourth ball, he told me that I should be bowling this. That’s how I turned a leggie.”
He was disappointed at not having made his debut in Hyderabad. “That was one thing that was on my mind since I was selected for this tour. But it is not in my hands. Hopefully, I will get to play in Bangalore. I have been with the team for Five Test matches. I hope to play soon,” he said as he ended his nostalgic trip.