Suresh Raina, one of India’s most successful international cricketers, is a familiar name even to those who are not cricket fans. An aggressive left-handed middle-order batsman, a useful off-spin bowler and one of the best fielders in world cricket, Raina was part of the World Cup-winning team in 2011. The youth icon is also among the most-followed Indian sportspersons on social media.
Through his memoir titled Believe: What Life and Cricket Taught Me, Suresh Raina, with co-author Bharat Sundaresan, takes the readers through the challenges he faced as a young cricketer. For instance, Raina was bullied in school and cricket camps where he, nevertheless, always punched above his weight, thus overcoming every adversity that life threw at him and never giving up.
Believe is the story of his lessons and the friendships he built with players on and off the cricket field. The memoir is filled with invaluable insights—about the game and life—that Raina acquired from his many fellow players including MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.
Raina recounts his inspiration behind penning his memoir and explains why he named it. Believe “Belief is one thing that has kept me going and motivates me to achieve bigger things in life,” Raina tells us. “When I started believing in myself, I could also do things that I thought were impossible for me to do. That is why I thought of writing this book and telling everyone, through my story, that nothing is impossible. You just need to have the right attitude and believe in yourself that with hard work and determination you can do wonders in life.”
The only challenge in his mind, as he worked on the book, was to make sure his story came out transparently and that he didn’t miss out on anything. “Also, I wondered whether my book will be accepted and appreciated at the same time by every reader,” adds Raina. “We did not rush into finishing the book and took our time with it as we wanted to cover almost every aspect of my life.”
As regards the use of the word ‘Believe’, it came from a place of sentiment. “It was told to me by someone who I always look up to—Sachin paaji,” elaborates Raina. “When I was not very confident about my own self, he told me to BELIEVE in myself and since then this word has meant so much to me I even got it tattooed.”
The bonds he shares
Raina’s memoir also takes readers through various stages of his life. “From a safe homely environment to a completely different atmosphere in a hostel facing some bad experiences, it was definitely difficult growing up,” says Raina. “But those things just made me much stronger and ready to face any challenge that came my way.”
The book also offers a good glimpse into Raina’s friendship with former India captain and Chennai Super Kings captain, MS Dhoni, both on and off the field, with a separate chapter dedicated to their relationship.
“The bond I share with Mahi Bhai is something very special and close to my heart. We started playing cricket around the same time and have been together since then. On and off the field, he always guided me and showed me the right direction. He is just like a big brother to me and I will always look up to him,” shares Raina.
A year that brought life closer
The last one and half years was challenging to Raina as it was for many others too. “The year was very challenging to all of us in different ways but it also taught us to look at life a lot differently. I am glad that I have got time to spend with my family, especially the kids,” says Raina. “This year has taught us to slow down a little and love our dear ones and shows them how much we care for them.”
Does he have any advice for budding cricketers? “My only advice to all the youngsters and budding cricketers would be to keep working hard towards your goal. Just have faith in yourself and trust the process,” says Raina.
Currently working on his fitness, Raina looks forward to the remaining season of IPL, he says. “Also, I am working on an upcoming project, the details of which will be out soon!” he adds in conclusion.