Monday, March 3, 2008


We were watching a news channel and my girlfriend fumed when she watched the celebrations happening at a remote village in Meerut and at the house of Praveen Kumar who bagged the Man Of the Match award for his 4 wickets against Srilanka who has consistently played ordinary cricket in Australia over the years (Forget about performing in Australia, Srilanka has never been one to perform abroad which can be understood from the fact that they are yet to win a Test match in India where conditions are not that different from their home country. They are as comfortable as Sheffield United playing against Manchester United when they are touring). But what she forgot to notice was the background, both on the TV and also of the bigger picture.

We were able to see the house of Praveen and it was hard to call that one of even a middle class family, which threw light to the kind of hardships that he may have gone through to reach at this level. Once it was unthinkable for someone from that kind of background to reach Indian team but in the last decade there were a lot of players from every remote corner of India, which can be attributed to the game’s stronghold in India’s soul, and the strength of character of those players as well. It was heartening to see the happiness of Praveen’s father who is, if I remember right, a lower level employee of Indian railway. It is now a known secret that Praveen’s family wanted him to choose wrestling instead of cricket, but still supported his decision to go for cricket. And now it is their moment of glory and they are entitled to celebrate when their son helped India to win a do or die match, after all those years of hardships. It was important to get a feel of the background to understand and appreciate the real value of their happiness.

There is a stirring story circulating in Indian domestic cricket. In 2003, Wassim Jaffer was padded up to start his batting for an important match when the news came that his mother has passed away. The young man took the field, scored a fluent fifty, made sure Mumbai won the match and then went for the funeral of his mother. How many of us will work with a stable mind in office when we know that any of our near and dear ones is not well? Think about the kind of turmoil he might have gone through when he walked out to bat. Think about how hard it was for him to keep a balanced mind, and that too for a game which requires absolute synchronisation and harmony between mind and body.

Recently there was an article in Cricinfo about Rohit Sharma and it threw light to the sufferings that he went through in his childhood. His father was the lone breadwinner and as he was not able to support his entire family Rohit was sent to the house of his relatives. He did his schooling staying there and he would come back every weekend to see his parents. Reading all that, I felt it is a miracle that he got to the Indian team at such an young age overcoming all odds. That is the kind of suffering these young men overcame amidst poverty to embrace this great game. So next time when we see those celebrations and happy faces, let us be pragmatic and appreciate the new fearless brand of young men of Indian cricket.