The eventful life of M.V Narasimha Bobby Rao became a book. Rao hails from the Indian city of Hyderabad and later moved to Ireland and became an Irish cricketer and former assistant coach of the Irish cricket team.
The book titled ‘India and Ireland…A Love Story’ was written by journalist Conor Sharkey. The life of Rao, who grew up to be a legend from the streets of his hometown in Hyderabad, has now turned into an epic.
In 1978, Bobby was selected to play Test match cricket for his country. In his short but eventful international career, he played four Test matches for India and never one. In 1987, he captained India to the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier national cricket tournament.
Despite possessing an extraordinary ability to transform players to a higher level, it has not been utilized there in 50 years. Bobby founded St. John’s Coaching Academy after his success on the field.
The school has produced some of the best players like VVS Laxman and current Indian women’s captain Mithali Raj.
Coming to Ireland to play as a professional in 1980 was crucial to Bobby’s cricketing and personal life. He met Josephine McIlroy while coaching in Straban, the couple got married after seven years of heavy love. Despite the champagne lifestyle of winning the Ranji Trophy, Bobby gave it all up for a life in the border city.
Bobby Rao has been here for 30 years as an Irish player and coach. He was also there to mold former Ireland captain William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Niall O’Brien and Craig Young to several current international teams.
Since coming to Ireland, his life goal has been to help those who have left their homeland and gone abroad in search of a better life.
Bobby founded the Strauben Ethnic Community Association in the aftermath of the racist abuse at Zion Mills and it became a beacon of hope for thousands of families around the world. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the Buckingham Palace MBE in 2011. Rao is the only Indian Test cricketer to receive such an award.
Bobby Rao continues to be Ireland’s lightning striker for a positive change in his 30 – year career at Strabaine. All the details of that seemingly incredible journey have been copied in his published memoirs.
“The book is the result of over two years of work between myself and Conor and it follows my life from my earliest days in Walker Town right up until this summer and the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Bobby.
“The highs, the lows, the cups and the controversy, every detail of my journey has been left on the page.” He added.
‘India and Ireland… A Love Story’ (published by Hero Books) will go on sale on Amazon – Print and eBook from September 21st. The official release will take place on October 2 at the Fir Trees Hotel in Strabaine, but unfortunately the ceremony will be nominal due to the current Covid restrictions.
Book signing will take place on October 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Strabaine Ethnic Community Association in Auburn Square, Strabayne. Bobby’s biography will be available there for 20 euros.