THE PASSING OF MALAYSIA’S OWN CRICKET HERO; BALAKRISHNAN NAIR

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We suffered a great loss today – Balakrishnan Nair, otherwise known as Bala, former national player, match official and administrator left us all. His dedication, love and devotion for cricket surpassed all boundaries.

“From seven to sixty-three, cricket has been all I have known; it is all I know; it is my life.” Nair said in an interview in 2013. The late Balakrishnan brought Malaysian cricket to astounding levels in the 70’s and 80’s. He donned the Malaysian jersey at various times between 1977 and 1986. He had played against Singapore, Hong Kong and in the ICC Mini World Cup in Birmingham in 1986.Aside from his unbelievable performances during his playing days, he was also instrumental in shaping many excellent players who had gone to make a name for themselves and Malaysia.

“However to me, this man’s greatest contribution was in inculcating the love for cricket and the early coaching which has produced such outstanding cricketers as the Nair Brothers, Chan Yow Choy, Tan Kim Hing, Harris Abu Bakar, Vishnu Suppiah and Arul Suppiah”, said Hector Durairatnam; a former national player and teammate.

After his international career, he continued to play for clubs, turned to coaching, officiating matches and organizing cricket tournaments.

During his coaching days, this humble man found great satisfaction in seeing the players he trained and supported rise to become national players. “Developing junior players is my greatest passion, and watching these players develop into national athletes and serving the nation with distinction is an added bonus”, he said during an interview in 2005.

Back when he lived in Setapak, he single-handedly started cricket training sessions at the neighborhood playground before he moved to Taman Ehsan, Kepong and initiated a similar training program. “The one thing that stood out with Bala is his ability to deal with kids”, said Nades; a journalist very much familiar with Bala. “Many of those he trained ended up in state and national teams. A gentleman who devoted his life before and after retirement to the game.”

Bala’s coaching has led to discovering wonderful cricketers such as Chan Yow Choy, Tan Kim Hing, Harris Abu Bakar, Vishnu Suppiah and Arul Suppiah – and more recently the brothers Pavandeep and Virandeep Singh, Niroshan and Nalin De Silva, Sachin Nair, Tejas Rajah and many, many more.

Sambu, a close friend and member of the Malaysian Cricket Association Executive Committee looks back at Bala’s superb character. He is now left with memories of hitting the nets at RSC on Sunday mornings apart from their regular 7.30am breakfast.  He expresses the passing of Bala as a great loss for the association and those close to him.

MCA Patron; YAM Tunku Tan Sri Imran expresses his grief, “there was no dedication like Bala’s.” “A great heart, a fine cricketer, dedicated coach and administrator. He will be missed by us all”, Tunku said.

It is obvious that there will be no other like Bala. As expressed by Dato Dr. Harjit; President of the Johor Cricket Association,” He upheld the dignity and honour of cricket.” “He served tirelessly even after his playing days. A great loss of a volunteer extraordinaire who is a rare breed in sports today.”

”We can only hope, we, and the future generation of cricket can live up to Bala’s great contributions.”President of the Malaysian Cricket Association; Mahinda Vallipuram described Bala as someone who was dedicated in all aspects of cricket he ventured into – be it as a national player, a coach, an administrator and as someone who simply loved the sport. “A gentleman with a huge passion for cricket. He will be missed by all.”

Rest in peace Mr. Balakrishnan Nair. You will be deeply missed.