Kerala's own 'Gayle Kuttappan' gearing up to dish out fireworks at ISPL

At 34, Sumesh is one of the most senior players in the ISPL.

The batting mantra of B Sumesh, known as 'Gayle Kuttappan' in Kerala's cricketing circles due to his aggressive hitting, is simple: 'See the ball, hit the ball! A native of Meenankal near Thiruvananthapuram, Sumesh has been a crowd-puller in tennis ball cricket tournaments across the state. He is now getting ready to showcase his pyrotechnics with the bat at the inaugural Indian Street Premier League (ISPL), which will be held in Mumbai from March 6 to 15. 

At 34, Sumesh is one of the most senior players in the ISPL T10 tennis ball cricket tournament. Total six teams, owned by franchises representing Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Srinagar will feature in the tournament.

In a chat with Manorama, Sumesh talks about his journey as a swashbuckling batsman and his foray into the ISPL.

How did you earn the nickname 'Gayle Kuttappan'?

I live in Meenankal, a village located about 40 kilometres from the capital city. When I was a child, my family members and neighbours used to call me Kuttappan. I started playing tennis ball cricket at a young age. It was Priyadarshan sir (director Priyadarshan), who first called me Gayle Kuttappan while playing for Kerala Strikers in the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL). He told me that my walking and battling styles had an uncanny resemblance to that of the legendary West Indian. The nickname became popular after commentators of the CCL started using it. 

How did you get picked up in the ISPL? 

I came to know about the ISPL through my friends. I registered online for the auction and made it to the initial phase of selection. There were 1,200 players from across the country in the camp held in Bengaluru. As I could do well in the final selection trial held in Mumbai and Chennai, I got selected to the auction pool of 350 players. 

At the ISPL auction, you were picked up by Srinagar Ke Veer. How did that happen? 

At the auction, my base price was Rs 3 lakh. When my name was called by the auctioneer, the franchise raised the paddle and bought me for my base price. I am the only Keralite in the team. 

Apart from the CCL, have you played in other national-level tournaments? 

The first time I played cricket with a leather ball was during a cricket camp held in Coorg in Karnataka. During the course of the camp, I got an opportunity to play in a veterans' match between Kerala and Karnataka. Seeing my performance in that game, I got an invitation to play in the CCL. Although I played in the first edition of the CCL, I was forced to opt out of the league after some franchises objected to professional players participating in a league meant for film personalities. Thereafter, I returned to playing tennis ball cricket. For me, the ISPL is the second innings of my life.

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