A Part of Me…
It was a Sunday. I was 14 or 15, probably the youngest playing in the league that day. I was sitting around the team, hoping that at least today the captain would send me in the field, as a substitute, for a few overs. I was much younger than the others on the team and we were playing a far superior and stronger club. I’d been on the fringes of the team for a long time and had not played a single game yet, though I’d shown a bit of talent in the nets. We had proven players in the setup, there was no need to throw a rookie into the fray. This was Division 2 Cricket, worlds away from First Class or List A cricket, but this was where it all began, even for the best in the world.
A phone rang somewhere. Our strike bowler had fallen somewhere and couldn’t play. Another one had already pulled out. So there was a bowler’s spot, but there still was another medium pacer who could get the nod before me. I was never under the impression that I would get a game. But I did. The captain (plays for Railways now) asked me to kit up. I was overjoyed. It was my first game in the league, I’d only played for my school before this. I’d led my School team n all , but in my eyes that didn’t count. I wanted a league game, and I wanted it badly.
I took 3 wickets in 3 overs that day, two of them bowled and a catch at mid on. I still remember. We lost the match, but the day was recorded in my memory as special.
This game is a part of my life. I always knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I would never go anywhere with it, that my love for it would only translate to a few games for my college or university and that too by a long shot. But I never stopped playing. It’s too much a part of who I am. The feeling of being there, on the field, having the ball in hand and running in is something that can never be explained or put into words. It’s a feeling I’d do anything for.
Why Cricket? Why not Football or Basketball or anything else? Well, I don’t know. I’ve no idea. But I do know that cricket is the greatest leveller in the world. It’ll teach you about life, that everything isn’t easy, the bad times will come and you’ve to be prepared for them too. And if you believe in yourself and stick through them, you’ll come back, and win again. Even the greatest have their bad patches. But what separates the great from the mediocre is the ability to pick themselves up, go back to the basics, try harder, and come back to fight again. My game is fought more in the head than against the opponent in the field.
I once made 70 odd runs in a run chase that boiled down to 122 in about 10 overs, probably the best I’ve ever batted, but that is not what I hold most close to my heart. Last year in a practice match against Amrita School of Engineering, our team were 6 down and in dire straits. We’d made barely 100 runs and were in danger of getting all out in a 25 over game. I played the remaining overs that day, only made about 30-40 runs, but stuck to the task of getting my team a respectable total. I was peppered with painful bouncers, hit on the head twice, sledged and abused, all part of the modern game, but I refused to get out. We made 146 in our allotted overs, hardly anything to shout about, but still something to bowl at. My team clapped for me when I went back, and that’s a second I’ll cherish for posterity. I would never give it up for anything. That is the reason I play this game. Whirlwind half centuries don’t even come close.
Only the best men ever become great cricketers. The Don, Sachin, Dravid, McGrath, Lara are examples. Men of character, of innate goodness, of strength, of honour. Cricket exemplifies these qualities. It brings out the best in men. It’s the fighters, the scrappers, who become the best players, the players the cricket fan loves, admires & looks up to. Langer, Collingwood, Hussey, Kirsten, Harbhajan, Lee are all examples.
And that is why I’m coming to it for inspiration. It’s been a tough last few months. I’ve lost sight of what I set out to do, lost my way, forgot who I am and where I come from. I’ve been, in one word, bad. I’ve done a few things that I’m utterly ashamed of. To those whom I hurt and traumatised because of my actions, I’m Sorry. I know that word is not enough, but I have no idea what else to say.
I’m gonna try to come back, to again become the boy I once was, to throw away all the bad things I’ve done and to begin, again. I’m gonna go back to my run up, I’m gonna run in again, and I’m gonna bowl my heart out.
The game I love & play has taught me that there’re such things as second chances, but also that you’ve to work really hard for them.