People realize pretty early; some don’t. That’s the beauty; it’s all timing.
I heard somewhere, “Well arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.”
When we say, “I don’t have time for this, that, etc.,” what does it imply?
Are we not arranging things properly, or, we know the right things to be done.
By the time we figure out what we want, it’s too late.
“If youth only knows and age only could.”
This is just an aspect of our life, an important one. As a kid, I did things that used to cause harm to my friends. Very temperamental, I just did what I wanted without even thinking about the consequences of my actions. Dennis the Menace was appropriately my other name concerning pranks I used to play on others.
I couldn’t control my temper while I was playing because I always played to win, and it reached a stage wherein I started believing; only I could make my team win. I played brilliantly, and I guess my mind went crazy, seeing how I used to play. The mind of a youngster!!!
This was how I, till the age of 14.
In the past, I always felt I was more significant than the team, and to my credit, I used to play pretty well. One day I did see my friends feeling the heat when I yelled at a guy who got me run out. I was furious, and I thought the match would be lost because of me getting out.
We did lose, and I couldn’t accept defeat that easy on that day. I did play with many new guys (younger than me), gave them a chance (in a sense, to bat first and to bowl especially), but I never liked them getting better than me. I mostly competed with guys elder to me, and I always wanted to be better than them. Never felt intimidated in the presence of many people who were elder to me.
If indeed a player was better than me, I never used to like that guy in the same team. I used to work on my bowling to get him out or field like Jonty Rhodes to take a catch or create run-out opportunities. I made sure; he didn’t get better than me.
I did all this sportingly never used unfair means of getting them out.
This was how I improved my game, but my attitude toward carrying the entire burden didn’t go. This was also the result of my friends putting my name in a big way whenever I used to play. The thrill they used to get when they got my wicket, all this made me feel self-centered.
I always wanted to be known as the best player among all the guys who played, and I did make a special effort to raise the benchmark every time in whichever way possible.
Sometime late 1999, early 2000, I didn’t enjoy this tag, and I could not play that well. I mean, I had very high standards. Even though I scored more than anyone, I wasn’t doing the way I did all six years previously.
My bowling was getting better, and my fielding was never a problem. Batting wise, I stopped being ruthless (still used to score fast, but less compared to previous years).
I felt there were no challenges left. I didn’t have to prove to anyone as to how well I batted. People knew. Still, there were conflicting feelings inside me. I was15, and it was too early to stop playing cricket.
But I had to get over it fast. Some new guys were coming, and they were good. Soon we had a bunch of pretty talented guys. Maybe I was not too fond of this fact and trying to prove them; I was losing my touch.
When I saw others, I felt, “How can I fit in the team now? Clearly, no one is gonna drop me. But I didn’t like the present role; I need a change”.
Well, people I thought are average cricketers, and those who played under the shadows of me and other guys needed a boost somewhere. Timing is the key for every cricketer.
In a way, my yesteryear attitude would have ruined their self-confidence if I continued playing in the same way.
I decided and threw a challenge on myself. To start with, I opted to bat second last instead of my favorite and usual opening spot. I wanted to see how good others are, and my sole purpose was to make sure we won in the end. Now I started enjoying the victories even though I didn’t bat.
I was enjoying my bowling, and I was dying to bowl every time we played. It didn’t affect my batting, but it took the responsibility off my shoulders to hit the winning runs all the time.
Slowly I could see youngsters enjoying the game since they were getting involved lots. Later, I stopped bowling and gave youngsters a chance to bowl. I didn’t bowl but used to bat. Even if they conceded runs, I wanted to make sure we won and made sure they faced the opposition’s challenge.
Slowly, I batted down the order and bowled whenever I felt it was necessary to bowl. I enjoyed my fielding, and the fun I used to get taking catches and stopping the boundaries was just exciting. I was thriving on the factor of me being the leader.
The ‘I’ factor was slowly getting replaced by ‘We’, and I started enjoying a senior player’s role in one year. My temper level in yelling and giving back to bowlers abated, however the passion and aggression to win every match were very much there. I was more a patient man and, more importantly, understood the word ‘contentment.’ I also understood the fact, “We win as a team, lose as a team.” It is wrong to blame individuals for one’s failure.
My last three years, i.e., until 2003, were great in terms of personal growth and the way I grew intellectually with cricket as the backdrop.
It didn’t matter or affect me when we lost a game or two as long as we gave our best; I made sure I gave my best and could see everyone do their best.
In 2003, I felt it was high time I quit playing serious cricket. Somehow I didn’t want to involve playing regularly. It was a tough decision but a good one considering the trend and the changes that occurred.
Sadly, cricket was never the same, and I wouldn’t say because of me it stopped, but I am just proud that I pushed myself to greater heights, and along my way, I saw others trying hard as well. This was the sheer fun of Galli cricket, intersecting roads, huge plain lands; it was just fun.
Whenever I walk past these roads next to my place, I get reminded of all those moments that shaped my life to become a better human being than a cricketer I could have been at the highest level.
I never played serious cricket in terms of school or anything; I did play some serious atrocious games with guys who gave everything so that it was, at times, more than just fun.
It was a mission. All I can say, in retrospect, it was Mission Well Accomplished.
I want to thank all my friends who played a role in developing me into the right individual. Because of the challenges, I could raise myself every time, and 90% I did succeed.
Steve Waugh mainly inspired the change in attitude. He became the Captain of the Australian Team in 1998, which inspired me to become a leader and make others push hard and personally set challenges.
Like him, I was there only when situations demanded me to be there; otherwise, I was pretty happy seeing my other friends finishing the job.
This time, we started playing some ruthless cricket, and at the end of it, we had a great laugh at each other. It was a journey which I enjoyed without bothering about the destination.
My cricket life started trying to be a Sachin, which I did brilliantly by being the one-man army to end like a leader of Steve Waugh’s caliber.
In the end, more than cricket, I enjoyed the other aspects of seeing others happy, involving others, and, more importantly, compete as a team. Incidentally, Steve is my mom’s favourite cricketer, and she also used to accompany me to various cricket skill camps early in my life.
For me, the 6th of January, 2004, at 1.15 pm local Indian time, was a moment, which will remain with me forever.
Steve Waugh: caught Sachin Tendulkar bowled Kumble – 80
He got out off his trademark slog sweep, and fittingly Sachin took the catch. It was at his home ground SCG, Sydney. It was an emotional moment for me as well since I had stopped playing a few months back.
Last year, I did enjoy reading his book: “Out of my Comfort Zone,” which is what I always went through and which is also the inspiration for my Blog’s title.
I get reminded of the following line I thought of once as a kid.
“Many People think life is a game; I thought cricket was a game.”
Sridhar (the first guy with whom I played on those roads in 1991), Anirudh (Bunty), Anupam (Dumpy), Praveen, Bharath, Ravi, Ajay, Vijay, Pavan, Anjaneya, Abhishek, Jaggu, Umapathy, Thejaswi Udupa, Abhilash, Monty, Niku, Basava ( the best I ever played with), Mallesh, Mote, Govinda (Kambli), Jagan, Raaghu, Pradeep, Sudhindra, Bipin( 4 years younger to me, highly talented), Kiran Sr, Kiran Jr, Nandu, Venugopal, Praveen, Renuka, Pavan, Santosh, Ramnath, Chetan, Nahush, Chaitanya, Kumaraswamy, Nikhil, Goutham, Preetham, Truthik, Anoop, Rakhshit, Rajat, Saravanan, Sharath, Allen, Elvin, Manjunath, Manu, Sanjay, Arun, Mayur, and others.
Most importantly, Anianna, who played a lot of cricket, and as a kid, I watched every game he and his friends played.
A special mention a man by the name of Mr. JayaPrakash. He was the first complete cricketer I ever saw. He gave me the first break into serious cricket as a substitute in a tournament. I still remember the way he used to hit sixes one-handed. Sadly he passed away in 1994 October.