Tom Boon was touted to be the ‘most happening player’ of the 2015 Hero Hockey India League – why not, after all he is the league’s most costliest player having being bought for $103,00 by Dabang Mumbai. The 25-year-old Belgium goal-poacher was expected to set the Hero Hockey India League on fire with his prodigious goal-scoring skills, but he has been a big disappointment for Dabang Mumbai in the 2015 edition.
One is not trying to be too critical of Boon’s performance as this was his first stint in the HIL after having given the first two editions a miss. Ask any hockey lover in India and the common refrain will be that he has cut a disappointing figure in the 2015 HIL.
One has to understand that foreign players may at times find it challenging to forge a ‘productive combination’ with the Indian players, who form a large chunk of every franchise. This can happen because training camps of teams are held for a short duration. Of course, as a professional every player must be prepared to cope with challenges and Boon having played for various club sides, will know that.
Let’s not hesitate in saying that Dabang Mumbai – owned by DoIT Sports Management – appears more formidable than erstwhile Dabur Group-owned Mumbai Magicians and they have a pretty decent coaching staff in place with German junior team's head coach Valentin Altenburg alongside former India captain and Arjuna awardee Viren Rasquinha as its strategic advisor and mentor, another former India skipper Anil Aldrin as assistant coach and former striker Edgar Mascrenhas as its goalkeeper coach.
Boon, for the record, scored once in their 1-2 defeat at the hands of Ranchi Rays, but by and large hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations of his team-mates and supporters. The biggest hindrance for Dabang Mumbai has been Boon’s inability to convert penalty corners – a trait he has become renown across the globe.
We all know how Boon played a big role in Belgium finishing a creditable fifth at the 2012 London Olympics and has been one among a string of players who have behind Belgium’s climb up the performance and ranking ladders of world hockey.
One would have expected Boon to give penalty corner-taking opportunities to his junior short corner team-mate Harmanpreet Singh simply because he did not appear to be at his best. As a senior pro, Boon kept taking short corners and missing them as well, while Harmanpreet did score a few times from the set-pieces whenever he got an opportunity.
As they say class is permanent and form is temporary and Boon for now seems to be not at his best. But he did show glimpses of his prowess during the league game against Uttar Pradesh Wizards in Lucknow, where he really came into his own. Although goals eluded him, Boon was firing on all cyclinders, a match Dabang Mumbai lost due to a late strike by the Wizards.
Call it a coincidence or anything – Tom Boon is no exception – every year the costliest player in the HIL hasn’t quite been able to live up to their price tag. Dutch veteran Teun de Nooijer was a big flop in the 2013 edition, while India’s Ramandeep Singh was a let-down in the 2014 edition (of course Ramandeep has performed well in the 2015 edition).