I feel so good looking at a vintage photograph that just popped out of nowhere. I am 6, holding a Kashmir willow bat with a gentle shimmer and a sense of pride in my eyes. The bat by the way is not an ordinary piece of wood. It is the finest present someone ever gave it to me, considering the fact that it was the time I got involved with the game. You see how the word MRF inscribed in red over the willow can exponentially increase its significance for a kid and assure him that he possesses a run producing machine in his hands. Today, as I pen it down I can see another bat kept in one of the corners of my room that says GM English willow on the cover. Like the one in the photograph this also is a gift, presented last summer though and looks brand new, but the grim reality is it is not. It is rarely used and that too over occasional weekends.FYI this word “weekend” exists significantly now.
On a broader prospect, the transition from the first bat to the second defines my life journey from a carefree kid to an IT professional. The priorities, friends, relationships and the contexts might have changed with the course of time but one thing that has stayed throughout is my love for this game. I have inherited many values at different fronts, be it academically, personally or professionally from this friend of mine. I feel even my parents or my teachers wouldn’t have taught me this directly. Just like goodwill of an asset cannot be measured on a sheet of paper, my bond with the game is priceless and poise.
Going back to my school days where academically everything revolved around cricket. For that matter Geography wasn’t about learning the topographies or attending map filling classes, it was simply about remembering the locations where Sachin scored his tons and visualising the co-ordinates through the pre-match postcards shown. By the way I still cannot correctly mark the European nations on a world map if you ask me to do so. Alas! They never played the game man .You automatically become a champ in mental mathematics when all the factors of 4 and 6 are on your finger tips and you are effortlessly practising multiplication and division while you calculate the projected score, the current run rate, the economy or the strike rate on a regular basis. Life is good when a Tony Greig or a Harsha Bhogle is your language professor. I sucked at economics though. I won’t lie. Well, BCCI wasn’t that rich and IPL was nowhere in the frame. Anatomy was a child’s play esp. if you were a Tendulkar fan as you already had a technical expertise on the fundamentals of hamstrings, tennis elbow, groin or a webbing even way before the curriculum started. The Ashes also cultivated a great virtue in me. I can get up at 3, 4 or even 5 in the morning. Thank you so much Channel 9.So, in case if I had to get up early morning for a revision before the exam, I would sleep thinking that it’s an Ashes encounter the next day.
Cricket had become a habit by then and it continued to prove its effectiveness even in college. The fact that I developed a Cricket Wagon Wheel for my computer graphics project and even wanted to simulate a hawk-eye as a final year project would support my statement. Unfortunately I couldn’t, as some smart ass had scared my team mates that the prototype required an expensive system to be imported, which made enough sense to scare them, though it was a baseless argument and finally the idea had to be dropped.
Meanwhile my dear friend had kept a parallel loop of grooming and embedding different attributes, running for me.I have always admired different aspects of different personalities and wanted to cultivate them in mine. I’ll share my accumulated set of experiences over the years that led to those mappings.
Honesty- If you want to see what honesty means rewind your memories to 2003.One simply doesn’t walk off in World Cup Semi-final even after being signalled not out unless his name is Adam Gilchrist.
Hard work-There cannot be a better example of hard work, humility and selflessness other than Rahul Sharad Dravid. Victory at the Eden Gardens in 2001, Adelaide in 2003, the wall performance in England in 2011 or the Speech at Bradman’s oration justifies everything. Dravid proved to the world that even your defence could be the deadliest weapon. I still remember once Akhtar ran a mile to bowl to him, an all he did was an elegant leave outside the off stump, which left Shoaib baffled and did a major damage to his ego. He is too much of simplicity and dignity packaged in one soul.
Being oneself- Time and again Virat Kohli has shown to the world what fearlessness and being Virat (not the next Viv or Sachin) is. Yes! He abuses! He is bold, aggressive and fearless but first and foremost he is an exceptional batsman. That pretty much gives him the authority to not to justify himself to anyone till he doesn’t breach the code of the game.
Consistency- It can be Glenn McGrath’s second name. He could even give complex to a bowling machine by consistently bowling in the same zone for days .His consistent mid 130 kmph deliveries were deadlier than a rookie bowling at 150 kmph. What can be learnt from him is the fact that you don’t have to be extra-talented, being focused can do magic for you as well.
Creativity- Mr 360 degree, Ab Devilliers is an epitome of creativity and awesomeness. He can not only play copy book cricket perfectly but is equally good at innovating himself by pulling a rabbit out of magician’s hat every now and then .At times, when you are left awestruck ,you’ll have to pinch yourself to check the reality quotient.
Leadership-Ricky Ponting and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the finest leaders that I’ve seen in my era. I would definitely like to adapt their ways of working when it comes to managing people. Ponting’s mantra of success- “If you set a goal to win, you have to win it no matter what it takes” fetched him 3 world cup titles and Dhoni’s funda of taking a little less of his share of credit and a little more of his share of blame also has done wonders for him .
Dedication-It would be unfair if anyone writing about this subject in cricket doesn’t mention their names. Graeme Smith and Anil Kumble are the epitome of commitment and dedication. Go back a little to Antigua in the year 2002. Kumble came back on field to bowl with a broken jaw for his team and got the prized wicket of Lara. Graeme’s incident in particular is very special. It was battle against his body and heart. There was no way a batsman would have returned on field back to face the might Aussie pace attack with a broken hand and a fractured elbow. For a brief nanosecond, just put yourself in Smith’s shoes and imagine you are standing on those 22 yards with one hand tied and someone is bowling to you at a mighty 150 kmph and the ball just kisses your faces and leaves. It is scary and you need a hell lot of courage to do that. That is exactly what Smith did to save the crumbling tail. He couldn’t win it for the team, but won a million hearts and the most importantly RESPECT from everyone.
Self belief- MSD is a divine force in itself. He is a bold character who always goes with his gut. He may not have the best of technique or the elegance of copybook style of playing, but the amount of self- belief that he has shown and the wonders it has done for his team is remarkable. Tune your mind a little back to the final of Ind-WI-SL triangular series in West Indies, 2013.Shielding the tail throughout and dragging it to the wire with 15 required to win off the last 6 balls, Dhoni pulled off a thriller with 3 balls to spare. He is unbelievable in so many ways. Panic is not even a word in the skipper’s dictionary. It takes a hell lot of temperament to finish games like these and Mahi has done it over and over again.
And the greatest virtue is to inspire someone! If you can be someone’s inspiration to success in life, then it’s your biggest victory. That is exactly what this little man from Mumbai has done. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has turned every stone thrown at him by life into a milestone. He has carried the burden of billions hopes and expectations without complaining for over 25 graceful years. From a middle class ball boy @ Wankhede to The GOD of cricket, his simple mantra of never finding short cuts and chasing his dreams has worked out exceptionally well for him. Every mother wants his son be like Sachin. This is the kind of stature this man has earned for himself and sets an example for others to excel in their respective fields.
On a modest note, if I can extract even 1% of the traits these gentlemen possessed can be the next Batman.
Personally also this friend of mine has gone an extra mile to simply things for me, resulting into more sorted relationships esp. with my dad. I think my dad and I have shared the heartiest and special moments while watching India-Pakistan games only. Cricket takes out the strict Dean Daddy part out of the equation totally and turns us into school kids applauding, shouting, abusing and even crying on certain moments. That’s the beauty of the game. For me happiness is this 🙂 If I am happy I watch cricket .If I’m sad also I watch cricket and be awesome again. It pretty much makes it an integral part of my life. Well this has side effects too. I have been blocked by my very good friends on Facebook for bugging and spamming their feeds with cricket updates on a regular basis. It has become my pseudo girlfriend. If I start giving this much time and value to the girls I like, at least I’ll be having one in REAL!
Coming back from my utopia as I keep the photograph back in the closet and rush towards reality, I look forward to play the test of my life. I know the road ahead is bumpy, but the only way to get out is by facing it with a smile and moving on for the next smoother patch.
Work Eat Play Love Pray!