Here is a cross post of mine from our company newsletter. I know I have anachronistic tendencies, but what the heck, IPL is always around the corner the moment you think about it.
CONFESSIONS OF AN IPL ROOKIE: CHINESE CUTS AND INSIDE EDGES
Caution: This one has been translated from chaste Hindi to English to suit the taste of the readers.
Week 1 of IPL-3
Since my induction into the Howrah Howlers from our mofussil township, I have always been the odd one out. The coach keeps saying that I have an important role to play in terms of strategy, but I have been carrying water and asked to pass on words of wisdom to the batsmen in the middle. This got me wondering whether our coach had read the “Art of Coaching” by Greg Chappell.
In the beginning there was hope, but now hope has turned to despair. Ensuing days were peppered with episodes of camaraderie and I decided to learn the finer aspects of the game straight from the firang team member’s mouth. It took me days to realize that what I thought were tips to make the ball talk with seam movement and bounce were actually gentle tips on how to keep your skin intact in hot, sunny conditions with white cream applied on the lips and face. My neighbor called me from our town saying that despair was writ large on my face when I was shoved by a team member to speak to the TV anchor at the post match stupid-questions session. Angrezi was proving to be my Achilles heel.
Week 2 of IPL-3
IPL-3 is gliding on like a dream for many of my team members except me. What made me more desperate was the fact that my local Indian player friend hit two sixes in a row off Shane Bond and he could not stop bragging about it even after 10 days post match. I am just imagining what would have been the scenario if those sixes were proper cricket shots (is six a proper cricketing shot??) and not a mistimed hook which flew over the wicket keeper and a Chinese cut which miraculously went flat past the boundary rope.
When I was mulling over whether the 3-year contract with Howrah Howlers was really worth it, news about two new IPL teams attacked all my senses, all at once! I was overjoyed and voiced my plan of shifting loyalties to my bragger of a buddy. I also heard Matthew Hayden is now on a crash course of Malayalam and JP Duminy is learning Marathi at the behest of a regional party supremo.
Week 3 of IPL-3
This is THE day my dreams came true!!! It is one of the most important days of my life. I shook hands with Sachin Tendulkar!!!! Can you beat this??? I am pinching myself for the umpteenth time. My excitement knew no bounds when the coach said that I could debut on our 9th match of the tournament!!
Soon came the surreal moment where the captain tossed the ball to me at the end of the 12th over. I saw the same diminutive man I shook hands with at the far end and my heart sank and perspirations came running down. With heavy palpitations, I enlarged the thumbnail view of Rony Irani, the God of Wibbly Wobblies, in my heart and began my run-up…I was so caught in the moment that at the end of those 7 fateful deliveries, I could not hear any sounds, neither from the screaming crowd nor from the articulate captain and the motor mouth of a wicketkeeper. My bowling figures read 1-0-30-0 or 4, 4, 4, 6, 6, 5w, 1. I imagined Lalit Modi laughing murderously all the way to the bank with every telling blow I received. I was trying to hide my face in the middle of nowhere, but there was nowhere to hide with all those camera angles.
Week 4 of IPL-3
Went to an after party. While drowning my sorrow in liquor, I was introduced by my bragger friend to an image consultant. He said he could reverse my fortune in 10 days flat for a fee. I told him I need a little time to think. After about half an hour, I asked for White Mischief and they got me a drink which I refused outright. I was outraged and insisted that I was looking for some White Mischief. On my way out, I tried to ‘rub shoulders with’ a White Mischievous Person who would not even give me a passing look.
I went inside the party hall again and re-introduced myself to the image consultant.
I started going for English classes. The walls of the class room were lined with portraits of pupils who passed out with flying colors; Irfan Pathan smiled at me from one of the bigger photographs.
A for Adam Gilchrist
B for Brendon McCullum
C for Cameron White…
Week 5 of IPL-3
The image consultant showed me pictures of Tillakaratne Dilshan and asked me to landscape my beard based on that. He assured me with this, even though I might not get one more game, I might be the darling of the media and the Page 3 parties in 5 days flat (this sounded like an ad for a weight loss program).
My bragger friend hit 20 runs in a Dale Steyn over. I stopped speaking to him.
Image consultant pulled the right strings to get me a “date ad” which I was really excited about. A date along with an ad shoot and a paycheck? A bevy of Bollywood lovelies bombarded my imagination. It was more than I could really ask for until I realized it was a shoot for ‘Lion Dates.’
Week 6 of IPL-3
I bought a Webster’s Dictionary at my English tutor’s insistence. The first thing I looked up after 10 days of rapid English classes were ‘designer wear.’
Coach held a brainstorming session. I was to be the secret weapon for a crucial match which would get us into the semi-finals. Do or die….Now I was pretty sure that he had read the ‘Art of Coaching’ by Greg Chappell. How else could he explain my inclusion if not as a lamb for sacrifice!
There I was standing in the middle, bat in hand, 5 balls to go with 19 to make. I could hear the crowd make no noise, I could hear the wicket keeper make no chatter. Lagaan played out in my mind and the defining moment came when I gave a wild hoick on the last ball which landed in the stands to take my team past the target! I shook hands with Javed Miandad’s apparition who was standing right there!!!!
I was tossed into the air by my coach and team members; I became a core team member overnight. I spoke to the TV anchor in not-so-halting English, and this time I had both my hands firmly on my hips. I collected some car magazines and zeroed in on the biggest SUV of them all, Volkswagen Touareg and asked my brother to book one.
Post IPL-3: A New Road Ahead
Whether my beard worked or the image consultant worked some magic, I would not know for sure in this phase of my life but I gave him his fee.
The stories of my do’s, which our regional daily mistranslated as ‘doosras’, made headlines and my mom called up. She said she wanted to put her foot down regarding marrying somebody foreign or out of community. I told her firmly, “I am too young and impressionable to get married now!”
Brother called back saying Touareg was out of stock.
He also broke the news that our neighbor Radha aunty, who never approved of her 7-year-old son Chintu playing gully cricket with us instead of doing his homework, reprimanded her husband for not enrolling their son in a summer cricket coaching class. She gave him an ultimatum of 48 hours. Seems like it is turning out to be a family feud of gargantuan proportions with relatives too venting their anger against the erratic husband.
My English crash course got over today, and I said the sentence “I want to play test cricket for India in the future” with reasonable fluency and confidence which was the level of proficiency expected of me. I have also decided to write my biography called “From Loser to Chooser” at the age of 26.
While going out, I overheard Yousuf Pathan, a new pupil, tell the language counsellor in Hindi, “I want to follow my brother’s footsteps…My dream is to play cricket until I learn English…”
Note: Cricket is not an elitist sport and English is not a prerequisite for those playing the sport professionally. Our demi-gods and prima donnas of cricket are all over the place for reasons other than cricket most of the time. Cricket crazy we might be, but overkill could come in the way of our ‘City Moment of Success!’