AB de Villiers : The Howard Roark of Cricketing Fraternity

And then he laughed.

Howard Roark, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s famous novel The Fountainhead, is a brilliant architect of the modern school, whose bold and innovative designs are a matter of fascination for the larger segments of society; draws uncanny resemblances with AB DeVilliers in many ways.

Just like Roark, ABD is fiercely independent and believes in the merit of his revolutionary designs and has the courage to stand for them in the face of an antagonistic society.His 360 degrees sweeps are no less than the Enright House. The impossible !

He is a brilliant thinker and he acts on his thinking. He is true to his values, to his convictions, to his thinking, to his mind, to his self; exactly the way ABD rose to the occasion while playing a gritty match-saving 220 balls-33 runs knock against Australia. Public opinions do not matter to him. He only believes in staying loyal and challenging himself.

Roark is fully committed to the individualistic approach in each of of his designs, and he takes a laborer’s job in a granite quarry rather than compromising on his work. ABD on such lines, once being too carried away in the glitterati of the perks of this cricketing life promised himself to believe in himself and give every inch of his body to this holy game. He has not looked back ever since then. He has not changed his attacking stroke-play, even being fairly criticized at times and is a proud holder of feats such as the fastest 100 & 150 runs in the limited overs format.

You either succumb to his enigmatic charms or call him a technically flawed, over-rated and overly loved player but the former has been the case pretty much. I guess you ought to watch a game in Chinnaswamy to know his cult following. After Sachin and Kohli, he’s the most loved sport star in India. He never craved for any such prestige but his potential to hit such sky-scraping sixes and the agility to induce such vivacity on the field, makes him the winner; exactly how Roark used to do the magic via his drafting sheets.

Roark is undeterred. He’ll design anything from sky-kissing elevations to hotels to temples to gas stations, so long as he can build in his own way. So is ABD.Be it IPL, the Titans -his provincial club, his national team or the street cricket, he gives his 200% in everything and tries to execute a different game plan, with different stroke-play, just to keep himself going. He’s not afraid to experiment, backs himself and delivers. His drafts his excelling stories with his bat.

Howard was a visionary from his initial days and wanted to stay ahead of his time. So like ABD, the way he went on to represent the Proteas and then owning the game with his sheer class,is something astonishing.

Howard Roark and AB DeVilliers represent to me – Ethical Integrity. It’s just a matter of one World Cup trophy , when ABD gifts himself the Wynand Tower, the last, the tallest and the biggest skyscraper of his career and fades in the overlying success of eternal joy and glory.

Advertisements

Ajinkya Madhukar Rahane : The Pursuit Of Versatility

As the name suggests,”Ajinkya” which means invincible;this Marathi boy is an insightful talent when it boils down to discipline and professionalism.

Calm,focused,introvert,gentleman and steady like an impregnable fortress,Rahane is an ideal Dravid prodigy. Ajinkya,with his technical eminence and stalwart demeanour has cemented his spot in the Indian line (both Tests and ODIs) with extreme delicacy.

The perfect straight drive.

The perfect straight drive.

Rohit is injured. Can you open ? YES!

Yuvraj is out of form.Can you reinforce the middle order ? YES!

The team is crumbling overseas.Can you bat at number 3 and anchor the innings? YES!

Slip cordon looks vulnerable.Can you stand at slips and pull off blinders? YES!

Team needs some buoyancy.Can you carry drinks? YES!

Within no time,the nifty right hander has evolved as the most faithful name in the Indian cricketing household and indeed Rahane is the epitome of a modern day versatile cricketer.

Epitome of versatility- Rahane

India’s current batting brigade with Rahane as the most versatile batsman

He has a subtle blend of timing ,artistry and aggression which not only has helped him flourish in the sub-continent but overseas as well,where others did struggle in the recent times.Till date I have not seen Rahane slog,exactly the way his mentor used to play.

With the mighty Australian tour lined up,his skills would come handy especially facing Mitchell Johnson. If he can shield the team from his wrath and try inspiring the team by sticking on the wicket,our young guns might turn out to be formidable.Also,Virat is sort of back in the form. Hence, I strongly believe that the duo of Rahane and Kohli have the balls to turn the tide this time. Hoping to witness a good show and #InRahaneKohliWeTrust trending in the Kangaroo land.

Rewinding a bit,Rahane incepted his vintage form from being called as The Night’s Watch for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL season 6. The boy had become a man back then.He scored 560 runs at a scintillating average of 40 from 16 games at a strike rate of
130,which included two classy knocks of 98 and 103* as well.

Tendulkar’s retirement proved a blessing in disguise for Ajinkya.He was offered a permanent berth in the Indian side at number 4.Finally,his patience paved off and that meant NO MORE BENCH for him.

Without seeking much of stardom,Rahane silently started putting some runs under his belt ,that too on the foreign soils.Right from 51* and 96 in Durban to 118 against the black caps,Rahane always kept his head high and did his job meticulously.Subsequently,his rock solid technique fetched him a ton at the Mecca of Cricket as well.That knock of 103 at Lords marked the dawn of a new phenomena – a phenomena of trust,hard work and consistency.He carried that momentum and scored a vintage ton at Birmingham in the third ODI in the same 2014 England tour.

A moment to cherish. Ton @ Lords.

A moment to cherish.Ton @ Lords.

Effortless straight drives,mighty pulls and a chip over cover are the prime ammunitions in his armoury.It’s a treat to watch him bat when he is on a song.But it is equally disheartening to see him throw his wicket after being well settled ,the way he did at
Dharamsala recently.The effort that he had putting scoring those 68 crucial runs went in vain.He certainly needs to work on that bit.

But let me tell you one thing very clearly.Whether it is Rahane ,Kohli or Pujara these lads should never be rated against the veterans.It is unfair for both the camps.Those legends belonged to a different ball game altogether.They played under different circumstances,under a different leader with a different mindset.Give them some time to explore,to struggle,to loose and to fight back.Trust me,you will eventually start looking up to them as well.

On a positive note,with the kind of form he is in both personally(just got married) & professionally,if he continues this sort of maturity for another year or so; I definitely see him steering team India to the paths of glory.

The inheritance of goodwill

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!