Category Archives: Between Twenty-Two Yards
People find icons in actors, sportspersons and politicians, but I have always found you as my icon. Please accept the following write-up, which, I believe, will forever fall short in explaining the respect I have for you. People might be waiting for the Gambhirs and Yuvrajs to comeback to the international side, but only one comeback is awaited on this end – yours. I have wrote this multiple times as a comment on your facebook posts, and I will write this again, “I will not die without meeting you!” Here, goes the write up.
“Excellence never seeks excuses,” says a man who has lent a voice to countless abiding memories from the game of cricket. Over the years, he has become an inspiration to thousands of cricket enthusiasts, sans his physical appearance on screen. His voice has always done justice to the sport we all love and follow as one of our religions. “Open the textbook, turn to page 32” are the words which will forever label a Tendulkar’s cover drive in IPL. Kumble’s maiden test hundred could not have been immortalized without, “This is most romantic moment in the history of cricket.” There was no other fitting tribute to one of the greatest cricketers of this era other than, “Is there a more calming sight in the world than Rahul Dravid taking guard?” Myriads of such examples exist.
Mr. Harsha Bhogle; just as you say his name, you are reminded of the most rational and sensational voice you might have ever heard in cricket, or in any sport for that matter. But, it is not only his commentary that makes him an inspiration for me. It is his entire innings, up till here, that he has crafted so well and all the fearless shots that he played to reach the commentary box. Mr. Bhogle has come from being a chemical engineer to pursuing a masters in business administration to eventually being a cricket journalist and a cricket commentator. Being a cricket enthusiast and MBA aspirant myself, no other person serves as a better aspiration for me. Though, there is something beyond his education and work profiles that has been my guiding light.
It is the very feature of doing what you love in that very moment, that will always be one of the most inspiring things about him. Having gained distinction in Science, Commerce and Media – Mr. Bhogle has left no stone unturned; something we all aspire to undertake. It also is a highlight of his willingness to learn. At every turning point in his life, in my belief, he chose to take the path which had not been trodden as much. Otherwise, who would abandon the various job offers, one can expect on getting for doing an MBA from IIM-A, and instead start writing for newspapers? I have always wanted to make a career based on similar lines as him – doing what you love and being where you like. He inspires me to have enough courage to break conventions, detach myself from the frantic race and make a path of my own.
I think one would rarely find any example of people who have not participated in a particular sport professionally but still have the prowess to showcase their knowledge about that sport on national television, and rather do it better than the others. Youngsters of our age are always skeptical about things we have not tried or learnt earlier but we can overcome our fears, I believe, if people like Mr. Harsha Bhogle wrote the preamble. During his speech at IIM-A, he said that excellence is a series of 100% because we never know when we find our calling. He said, “Can you fill 2 liters in a 1 liter Pepsi bottle? So you can never give anything more than 100%. But you can give 100% for every moment.” These were words out of the commentary box, which made me draw even near to his works, and I hope such words draw me near to my goal someday.
He once said, “I learnt this very early in my childhood: Remember the good, Forget the bad.” Well, I can most certainly say that when I will look back on how Mr. Harsha Bhogle has inspired me, there will only be good to remember and no bad to forget. For making me listen cricket, for showing me ‘the winning ways’ in life and for sundry other inspiring moments – Thank you Mr. Harsha Bhogle.
“As elusive as it may seem, optimism can be found all around – in the laughter of children, in the excitement on your pet’s face when you get back after a long day, and in the smile of your loved ones when you go back home after months of being away.”
But cricket in India can be called the best example of hope and optimism. And since 2007, once Dhoni took lead, this optimism has been ever-growing. India’s story has looked more on the Bollywood side because they have been a team, who have performed fabulously well in all the big tournaments, regardless of their performance in the regular ones. And thus every tournament brings with it high expectations, hope and optimism. With flags and jersey and painted faces are we here again, bleeding blue and chanting, “Mauka Mauka!”
If I am asked about my favourite story of hope and optimism, it will be the 2007 Maiden T20 World Cup. Not being able to clear the group stages in the 50 over world cup, the same year, India were in a bereaved state. The team had undergone a complete renovation and featured names which were unheard before – Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma and even the death over hero Joginder Sharma. India wasn’t the strongest on paper. Nobody expected an inexperienced side to win. But things picked up slowly, from a fun bowl-out in the group stage to cruising somehow out of the super 8s on net run rate which witnessed the six sixes from Yuvraj Singh in an over. Rohit Sharma was named the Man of the Match in the last super 8 match against South Africa, the effects of which are still being bared by all Indian fans. On another note, hope and optimism can be borrowed from Rohit Sharma also. If he can score two double hundreds, we can hope to be ambitious about bigger things in life too. Beating Australia and Pakistan to clinch the world cup was special because they were teams which were the highest in confidence. Australia, because they had won the world cup in the same year and Pakistan, because of no reason whatsoever.
Winning that world cup was big, but why was it a very significant chapter for hope? It rang the alarm of the comeback of the biggest cricketing nation. After 24 years had a silverware come to us. It lead the way for Indian Premier League and opened up the game which we believe in as a religion. It is amazing how a world cup win can do so much for that country in that game.
Hope is an elastic. It never fails to leap back again. It is a surprise. It comes from nowhere. It came for a tournament where there was no Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman or Kumble. Hope can never be barren and it is a two way traffic. We hoped to win. We won. Winning filled us with hope. It knocks a question within us. It asked, “Can India win the world cup?” A question, it brings along every four years.
Can India win the world cup on a foreign pitch that is least favourable for them? Is there still some midas touch left in Dhoni? Cheer. Bleed Blue. Hope. Look up. India! India!
Toothpaste isnt over till we squeeze out every bit of it. The remote shall work till the last beating it got, did not make it work. We are in a country, obsessed with non-retirement. We have grown up to only see the same politicians’ hair grow white. Certainly, retirement seems to not be fitting in our dear subcontinent. Certainly not fitting, if it is of a person who plays the sport, which we enjoy as a religion and one who the whole nation idolizes as an icon, as a sportsperson, as God. The fact that the roles he is idolized for doesnt end here, makes him rise above all. I am not very dear to statistics to remember his records. History isnt good too, to remember which of his performances stand out. But I do remember, when he broke the test record of Sunil Gavaskar for most centuries. That knock, he says, he dedicates to his father. That day, the nation idolized a son. The day when India won the world cup and his two children were on his side, maybe not that day obviously, but someday later the nation idolized a proud father. The day he gave his farewell speech, particular of not missing anyone, the nation idolized a true human being. Irony is that we still called him god.
I am not any cricket expert to comment on how well Sachin used to play, but for one fact that those spontaneous claps or the sudden “Shot!” and “Waah!” were the most prevalent when he batted. And i’m not any cricket expert still. But all i know is that the time since i’ve started following cricket, its been a habit to watch him. Atleast to see him on the scorecard. Then when he walked in with the MRF bat, he gave all of us, kids, a reason to aspire to be a cricketer. And now when i am seventeen, in those gully crickets which i play, i may play the cover drive well and then to my own satisfaction, i am content that it was like his.
Tweets have been pouring in, the newspaper columns do not put an end to his farewell, everybody has been so expressive. This is my first attempt. And, I do not know how to express or justify that why the heart cries joy at his straight drive, more than it does any other cricketing shot from any other cricketing bat. His Majesty. His Magnanimity, such that i have only seen him play ten years and I know how much of a masterclass he is, while my father keeps narrating me incidents of the 90s. And i will never envy him more for any other reason, but only that he was there at the Edens for the Hero Cup match. India vs South Africa. The midas touch of his on the deuce ball helping with Gold for India. And I hear people talk about Sharjah, and remembering his innings by years, by places, by numbers but for me, he brought out the meaning of the game in the ten years that i saw him.
Terror for a bowler, threat for any team, 22 yards’ favourite disciple all move into oblivion.
He came. He saw. He conquered. He retired young. His life between these 22 yards over these 24 years shall forever be etched. Somewhere around those yards, when Indian team be playing, you will try and seek for the number 10, but… in vain. And when you wont find him, you will realize that it wasnt just a cheer, it was joy, it was hope, it was magic.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Thank you. Thank you.