Where are they now? Arul Suppiah
As part of a series of stories that we will be running over the next few months, we will be taking a look at what some of our former players are doing now.
Today we take a look at a World Record holder.
It’s just over two years since Arul Suppiah was forced into taking an early retirement because of recurring knee problems. What has he been up to since then? We asked the man himself. “I’m now qualified as a teacher,” he said. “It’s good to have got my qualification and it was a long hard year working towards it but it has been worth it.”
The 32 year old went on: “This summer I had my first group of students go through A Levels and when they got their results they did pretty well.”
In addition to a full teaching load Arul is still very involved with cricket as he explained. “Even though I had to retire from the professional game I am still very much involved with the sport because I am the Director of Cricket at Queens College. I really get a thrill seeing the young players developing as they grow through the system I have put in place. We are taking cricket at Queen’s a few steps further and for the first time we have got four sessions of cricket throughout the winter, which we started about six weeks ago. We start with younger pupils and go right the way through to the senior school up to 18.
“I have introduced a programme and I am quite happy with the way that it is moving forward. I am lucky to have been able to recruit former Somerset bowler Mark Davis to help with the coaching in the week.”
Arul realizes that success doesn’t come overnight as he explained: “This is a long-term project for me and we are going in the right direction. Queen’s are always on the look out for talent, and we can offer an all round package to those who want to come here. For me it’s not so much about the talents, its more about the attitude and the desire to work hard because I believe talent can only take you so far. The rest has got to come from within you.”
Having played in the Somerset age groups before making his debut in 2002, Arul was involved with the County for more than half of his life so what does he miss the most?
“If I am honest the thing I miss most is playing my backfoot drive,” he said. “That always gave me great satisfaction. It was my bread a butter. I miss that competitive edge and the challenge of going out to the middle. I also miss my team-mates. Even though cricket is an individual sport, the whole squad are working together to win as a team for Somerset. I also miss playing in front of a big crowd, especially at Somerset. I miss diving around or trying to take a catch on the boundary because I got such a buzz out of it. I still think about it because everything that I have done since the age of eight has been geared to becoming a professional cricketer. I left home at the age of 12 and came over to England and there have been lots of ups and downs, so I’m bound to miss it.”
Arul recounted some of the highspots from his career. “Of course to have taken six wickets for five runs and set a new T20 World Record at the SWALEC Stadium was a very proud moment, but records are there to be broken. Making my debut against West Indies A in 2002 was a bit special and Chris Gayle was playing for them. There were several of us who made our debuts in that game- Wes Durston, Neil Edwards, Carl Gazzard and myself, so it was a young side and we tied the match chasing down 454.
“I think the couple of turning points for me were my maiden century at Derby and then in 2007 when Justin Langer was around and working with him. He helped me to understand the game better and from then on my game progressed. Opening the batting with Tres was quite nice and we had a good run together and over five seasons I think we put on 5000 runs together and averaged about 55 as a pair.”
During his time at Somerset Arul played under several different captains, so what was his take on each of them?
Each of the captains I played under were very different people,” he said. “Graeme Smith was a big man and when he stood up and spoke he just got the attention of the whole room and everyone listened. ‘Smithy’ would lead from the front he would actually go out there and bat and lead in that way, which was great. He would also give you a kick if you weren’t performing. He was quite ruthless and would let you know but it was all short asides with him.
“However, for me Langer was a lot of things behind the scenes which I really enjoyed. He taught me that everything you do affects the way you play. The way you eat, your lifestyle and the way you think. At one stage I couldn’t get a run and was playing for the seconds. I thought I was going to be sacked, but he put his arm around me and said lets have a chat and from then on he would give me a nudge and encourage me and it worked. JL was someone who trained really hard as well and did so much behind the scenes. I remember batting with him and playing and missing and he would come down the wicket and have a go, saying buckle up and come on. One thing he told me was that when you are in form, take advantage of it. The other thing he said was to watch the ball. That’s the most important thing and I still have the cricket ball that he wrote it on!
“I didn’t play so much under Jamie Cox, but he made his presence felt and was a good thinker of the game as well. They were three very different men but they all got the best out of their players.”
What was it about Somerset CCC that made it so appealing to you Arul?
“Quite simply Somerset is a Members Club,” he said. “It’s all very personal and people come up to you and talk to you. That’s the kind of relationship you have with the fans. As players we were all together and that sense of family was there all the time. We would train together, go out for coffee and have a night out together. The way we trained and the way we thought about the game was good and we were a proper unit.
“People still come up to me in Taunton and talk to me, they say they wish I was still playing which makes me feel quite emotional. I wasn’t a flashy player. I just went about my own business in my own way and did as much as I could to help the team win.
Arul added: “It’s great when people do come up to me and talk to me about when I was playing and what I am doing now. But that’s what Taunton and Somerset CCC is really all about.”