Note: This article was originally published in 2017. In January 2021, he made his Test debut for India at the Gabba in Brisbane against Australia.
Washington Sundar, only 17, has already been noticed in this edition of the Indian Premier League for his gritty off-spin. Replacing a player of the caliber of R Ashwin is not easy, but the teen has managed to fill the big boots, claiming eight wickets in the 10 matches he has played so far.
His match-winning figures of 3/16 against Mumbai Indians in the first Qualifier to propel Rising Pune Supergiant to the final made him a household name. And raised a lot of questions as well, with a name as unique as Washington Sundar.
Turns out, there is a very heartwarming story behind it. He is named after a late Army officer, his father’s mentor, who died before Washington was born.
M Sundar, Washington’s father, also played cricket in his day. But coming from a poor background, he didn’t always have the resources to follow the sport. However a neighbour, an ex-army man called PD Washington, helped him out early in his career.
“Washington was extremely fond of cricket and would come to watch us play at the Marina ground. He took a liking for my game,” Sundar told The Hindu. “I was poor and he would buy [a] uniform for me, pay my school fee, get me books, take me to the ground in his cycle and constantly encourage me,” he added.
Sundar eventually played in the TNCA first division league and Washington had a large role to play in it, continues The Hindu report. “I decided to name [my son] Washington in memory of the man who had done so much for me,” Sundar was quoted as saying.
Unfortunately, PD Washington passed away in 1999, a few months before Sundar’s first son was born and named in his honour. In fact, such is Sundar’s gratitude towards his mentor, if he had a second son, he would have named him “Washington Jr”.
Leading his team to the IPL final at 17 is no mean feat, and Washington is definitely making his father and his mentor’s name proud.