by Vishnu Kumar 22 June 2011
There is a life in cricket just as we have real life. It might sound a little astonishing, but that's the truth. It can be felt when you are playing for some years with heart in the field or at least when you retire. This is what I felt on 17th June this year, just a few days back.
On 17th of this month, I got a call from my coach asking me to play in a match the next day, the last of the matches this season in the Vellore League Cricket. I had virtually retired from playing club cricket from April onwards. My coach did not know this and only one of my teammates in the club knew of my decision and the actual reason for it. So, on hearing this information, I hesitated at first but my coach persisted telling me to come and I did not want to say no to his words.
After this, I did not know what to do. I was in total confusion whether I really wanted this anymore. My body condition is not good and if I play tomorrow, the lure of cricket might be too much for me to stop playing hereafter which might bring more problems to my family. So, I prepared some lies to say to get away from playing tomorrow but still not staying I am not going to play cricket in the near future.
Later that day, at exactly 10 PM, I went to my coach's house. I said my prepared excuses but as the conversion continued, I was forced to say that I had a family problem which stopped me playing cricket and that is why I had not been to practice for the last two months. My coach understood my situation and comforted me by saying "Everyone has a problem in their life, so don't worry". I said thanks and turned to leave his house.
Then suddenly these words came from his mouth, "So that's it! Your cricketing career ends today". I turned back towards him in shock, I did not know what to say and how to react. The word "ends" was not what I ever thought of or wanted to hear from my coach today. In a few seconds, my memory went back to relive all my moments on a cricket field. A few drops of water came from eyes without my knowledge and with controlling all my emotions I said to him, "Maybe I can continue playing after a year, once I finish my last year studies and get a job". But my coach said to me, "A year's break, your body won't obey what you say". I reacted with sad smile and said "OK, Good night!" So, that moment ended all my life in cricket. My cricket life was dead and I came back home thinking all about my life in cricket.
Though, I was not a good player, nor a talented one, I had a heart, a passion, a pride for my cricket. Looking back at my short cricketing career, I am proud of what I achieved. I did not score a hundred, intimidate batsmen with my bowling, or even had the best of potential to be a great player. I did however play for my team and I got appreciated for my commitment every match.
I remember first time walking out to play for my school team; my school coach said "if you don't hit 25 runs, you have to give your white track to me". I accepted the challenge and went out to open the innings. Before this match, I never ever opened the batting, or faced the new ball, not even in a practice session. I was very nervous initially and worried about losing the track rather than scoring. So, I said to myself "we paid 200 rupees to get this track and it should not be given up easily". I did not tried to hit the ball, rather I tried to tuck or just flick it to get the runs. At the end of the match, I remained not out on 28 runs, where my team score read 180 in 30 overs. I did not hit a single boundary nor wasted too many balls. It is not that I was afraid to come down the track or slog to hit boundaries but I knew what I was doing. I knew clearly if I stayed until the end, I would reach my goal. A lesson that helped build me as player and helped me grow as a man in real life.
In another match in the same year, I was sent out to bat at No.6 with more than 100 runs needs to be scored from 20 overs. We were the last of the recognised batting pair and my partner Govindan is very aggressive in nature and has reputation to hit the ball long. This time, I was very confident and much better as a player. I told my partner; "don't slog or try to hit over the top, listen to me then this match is a walk in the park for us". We both played fluently in our partnership like professionals, and I still remember two of the shots I played in that match. One a backfoot punch and another is a pull over square leg boundary. Both came against the bowler who made me to dance in my debut match to his bowling. The first ball I played in the match, I got beaten. He walked near me to stare but this time I told him "if you can, take me on". The very next ball, I walked down the pitch and hooked him over the square leg for six. At the end, we won the match and I remained unbeaten on 48, which is still my best score in an official match. When I was walking off the pitch, all my team mates came running to hug and congratulate me. My partner Govindan said "it's because of you I scored runs, you are the sole reason for our victory today".Govindan got 42 in that match.
That day made me to believe I belong here and that day taught me what it takes to prove yourself among many individuals, taking the responsibility and using whatever knowledge you have. I became like a leader suddenly after guiding my team to victory chasing 190 runs after some 70 for 4 wickets. I gained respect and everyone looked up to me for whatever I said thereafter in our following matches.
Every day, every moment on and off the field, cricket moulded me. Cricket taught me a lot of things that takes individuals to learn after many years of life. Cricket is not all about scoring runs or taking wickets, it is about how you should be on & off the field. I still remember when I made my club cricket debut at 14 to a team that had a Tamilnadu State player as captain and many experienced pro players. I did not get a chance to bat nor bowl but I led the team walking off the pitch after the match is over. I gave my soul on the field, track was torn below the knee, I injured my left hand and bloodshed from my left knee. I was not outstanding on the field but they thought my effort & courage I showed made the team draw the match. At first, I did not know I walking off the pitch before all my teammates, but my coach hugged me and said "you earned this". My captain also hugged me so tight and all smiles made me prouder than I can express in words.
Those little moments are what makes you keep going. In hard times, I remember those moments and they keep me motivated. Cricket makes you think, stand up at all times and take pride in every moment on the field. That's what we should do in our real life, never forget those moments you earned and keep learning every day.
Before making my debut in School team, I played as 12th man for a year and yet I was not absent for even 1 match or practice session. Sitting and watching the game from the outside taught me a lot of things for a 12 year old kid. Every match, the value of just playing in the team increased. I was very patient and waited for my chance, I knew the day would come and I kept on working on my game both mentally and technically. I can say the number of matches I sat out and number of matches I played were almost equal. Maybe that is what made me stronger and that is why every moment on the cricket field made me so proud.
You don't get your chance to prove yourself easily in this money run world but a day will come. Wait for it and work for it! If you keep your memories with you, then no one can break you. Every past moment of your life is so important and will keep you pushing harder and stronger for every success that you can achieve, irrespective of its size or value. There is so much cricket can teach you that you can use in the rest of life, however short your life in cricket is.
Sometimes you find it amusing to speak about your life with others. You never know what they are going to gain from it. But the truth is a human being finds inspiration from another human being no matter how small you or your story. A human heart needs just a spark, a spark that will ignite him mentally.