Express News Service
BENGALURU: Sitting in a 10*10 garage in Uttarahalli, Ram Bhandari may look like any other regular Bengalurean. But interestingly, this city resident has had a huge role to play in how cricketing legends have performed on field. Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virendra Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Prasad, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly have all had Bhandari to thank for modifying or repairing their bats.
Previously having worked as a garbage truck driver, bouncer and carpenter, Bhandari – often known as ‘India’s bat doctor’ – is also gearing up to assume a new role: Of opening a sports shop, one that sells only cricket equipment. “My workshop does not have any advanced machinery or technology to repair the bats. I manage to work with the tools I already have. Moreover, it is sometimes just the heart I apply into my work,” says Bhandari, who will feature on History TV18’s ‘OMG! Yeh Mera India’ on Monday.
He is also busy repairing more than 50 bats for the Under-14, Under-19 and Under-23 state cricket players in his small workshop garage in Uttarahalli. “My vision is to help small-time players get a good grip on their bat. I will continue to help them by modifying their bat to fit their body language,” says Bhandari.
A conversation with Bhandari is filled with many anecdotes and the memories he has of cricketers and their choice of customising bats. “Sachin prefers a short handle and a lightweight bat. Mahi (Dhoni) likes to keep it a little heavy since he is a middle-order batsman. If I am satisfied with the feel of the bat, I am absolutely sure that the cricketers also will be fine with it,” he says.
Bhandari also jogs his memory to 2007, when Tendulkar’s injury due to the heavy-handedness of the bat had upset the then coach Greg Chappel. “Sachin gave me his bat for repair. I first weighed the bat and found that it was very heavy. I then reduced the weight, gave the right balance and stroke and delivered it to Sachin after two days, saying this modification will fit well for the match. In the first match of the Asia Cup 2007 in Malaysia, he scored 154, then in the second match he scored 144,” he says. The story doesn’t end there. “I did not have a weighing machine so I used the one in a hotel that was used for weighing sweets. This idea was once told to me by Dhoni,” he adds.
But besides his sheer dedication to the job, other tools like a compressor, scale and grinding machine, also help Bhandari with the task. These alone have helped modify the dynamics of the cricket bat, giving it the right stroke, curve, balance, weight and height for the cricketers to pack a punch. Bhandari says, “The cricket bats have given me livelihood for 20 years now. I don’t have any other job apart from this so my relationship with bats will be never-ending.”
What’s in a bat?
Sachin Tendulkar A lightweight bat with a short handle
MS Dhoni Prefers a bat that is on the heavier side
Yuvraj Singh Prefers a bat that is heavier and with a short handle
Virender Sehwag Short handle and lightweight bat