You went from being one of the most spoken of domestic players in the Indian Premier League to a has-been in a matter of a few years.
Before anything more could be added to that question, T Suman, sounding like someone besmirched, said: “I am not a has-been. I am far from done.
“If this is the angle you’re going for, I would not like to comment any further because I don’t agree with you."
The pause between words felt tangible and the awkwardness of the moment was as clear as his enunciation. The moment passed and Suman was a lot more forthcoming, but not once did he let his guard down.
“I don’t want people to think of me as someone who used to play well. I am still young (31) and I have a lot of good years in me. This year I was expecting a call from one of the (IPL) sides, given how well I did in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, but I am very disappointed that they didn’t call me."
A careful look at his career graph shows why he would want to cloak that vulnerability.
Suman began as a promising batsman for Hyderabad in 2003 and slowly gained popularity among peers for his fearless brand of batting. He had done well enough on the domestic circuit, prompting people to consider his name when discussing potential India material.
Suman clearly had the potential in the shortest format and this became more evident when he came up with some inspiring knocks en route to Deccan Chargers’s title triumph in the 2009 edition of the IPL.
He may have made just 237 from 12 games but the runs came on pacy wickets in South Africa. Almost as if to reiterate his skill irrespective of playing condition, he followed that season with 307 runs from 14 games in 2010 with the best of an unbeaten 78. His career was on the upswing and the icing on the cake was when he was drafted by Mumbai for the 2011 season. Suman lived his dream of interacting with Sachin Tendulkar, but the move didn’t result in him scaling new heights.
“I didn’t play the first ten games and then I got a chance. I was batting down the order and I didn’t get too much time, but I still made my 20s and 30s. The next season, I played just two games because of an injury," said a rueful Suman.
The following season, he was bought by Pune Warriors, but by then he wasn’t a novelty anymore. Asked to play well down the order and rarely chip in with his offspin, Suman didn’t have too much space on the canvas to paint on.
He went unsold in 2014 and 2015, despite top-scoring in the domestic T20 tournament with the 2015 auction around the corner. He belted 361 runs from nine matches after a good run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“I had a good run domestically. I thought I had done enough on that front to be considered for selection by the Sunrisers. I was surprised when they didn’t select me, but I will continue to work on my shortcomings and become a much better player."
At 31, you wouldn’t expect too many cricketers to still be vying for a spot in the Indian team, but Suman isn’t done with that dream just yet. He remains focussed on the task at hand and is doing everything possible to return to being back in contention.
“I will be very honest and tell you that it’s hard to be sitting and watching the matches on television. All the time, all I can think of is being there and putting on a good show. It’s very sad, but one day I will surely return and make the most of my chances."
Suman knows that chances are few and far between in the world of cricket, but he continues to be among many who are waiting in the wings to taste success again and return to a moment on a summer’s night when they felt indispensable, even if only for a brief moment.
“Remember, I am not done yet."
We won’t forget.