Cricket: World Cup win was nothing, says Sharma as he polices virus curfew

In a file photo taken on Sept 23, 2007, the then Indian cricket team bowler Joginder Sharma (right) celebrates with teammates during the second semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban.
In a file photo taken on Sept 23, 2007, the then Indian cricket team bowler Joginder Sharma (right) celebrates with teammates during the second semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium in Durban.PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Joginder Sharma bowled the key final over when India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the first Twenty20 World Cup cricket final in 2007, but says he faces more pressure as a police officer making sure people stay home during the coronavirus crisis.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) and others have hailed the efforts of the 36-year-old as he hits the streets of India in his role as an officer of the law.

"Obviously this contribution is much bigger because people are losing their lives," Sharma told AFP from Hisar in Haryana where he is now a superintendent.

"It was also a big thing, winning the World Cup for India, but here we have to save the nation. And even if I am playing a small part in this, then it is huge."

Sharma has been leading a team trying to keep people off the streets during a 21-day lockdown ordered by the government to halt the spread of the virus.

India has now reported 29 deaths from more than 1,000 cases, but experts believe there are many more.

Thousands of people have been arrested across the country for flouting the curfew.

The ICC said Sharma had gone from World Cup hero to "real world hero" as it released a picture of the all-rounder in India cricket colours and his khaki police uniform.

Sharma, who played just four one-day internationals and four T20 matches, said he is using cricket's spirit of teamwork to tackle the crisis.

 
 
 

"It was the nature of my sport, which is a team game and players work together to make things happen. So now we have to help each other and the biggest help will be to stay inside our homes," said Sharma.

"This is the only way to fight coronavirus. Feed the hungry, help the poor. Say no to social gatherings, go out just for getting essentials, but maintain social distance."

Sharma added that his "extreme fitness levels" and fame also come in handy as an officer on the beat.

"People know me and recognise me and that helps putting my point across. But now I am a police officer and this is my duty."