“Is that too much to ask for?” Part II

​”There’s no money in women’s cricket, hence, no future.”

“IPL’s glamorous business is playing in your head, which is but only for men”

“Ever heard of any female cricketer or broadcast of an international match? They’re all oblivious”

One after the other, such pessimism made the road ahead marshy for her and subsequently with every step, Adira feared submerging in the bog.

So just like everyone who failed to understand Robert Frost’s conjecture in his eloquent work, “The Road not taken”, so did she but here on purpose.

When the great poet quipped:

“And I took the one less travelled by,

And that’s made all the difference…”

He rang bells of sarcasm on every individual who’s more or less a part of the mob, yet when interrogated will always mention his great struggle through a difficult path and thereby, claim indelible  triumph in his/her own eyes.

Similarly, even she thought of doing life the easy way by narrating great ideas and greater philosophies of breaking concrete and becoming a professional cricketer but never ever attempting those surreal ordeals.

Holding conversation with peers drowned into dullness as she instead spent her schooling hours by doodling in the chemistry class, poking her face outside the window in the physics class and with a sunken head sealed with ambitions in the computer class. Adira stayed perennially consumed in her own thoughts after that deft “NO” she’d received from her father. This was her class 12 and doubtlessly, Indian parents hardly take this academic session with a pinch of salt let alone playing cricket simultaneously.

Eyes welled up night after night as the pillows grew moist with grief only her heart knew about. Even today, she can’t recapitulate a single moonlit sky which didn’t give her sleep out of dreariness. Dreariness as a byproduct of incessant tears and frothful fears. Every morning that she got up, her feet trembled while getting down from bed. They were shy of crashing on the floor, on landing… Quite incapable of carrying her own weight now.

But, she was adamant. Adamant of not becoming a granny who whines about how life offered her lemons when she sought peaches.

Those tanned pages of every book she’d read in past on meticulous struggles, uncountable sacrifices on the path to glory and the will to adhere in every given circumstance were her Nightingale.

She incessantly muttered to herself that Adira is going to be Adira.

So she survived this woeful academic session, secured admission in a decent college and then thought to give a second shot to her passion. She was worried whether her parents would allow her to play cricket this time around or not. And energy to fight more battles at home had almost drained her mentally in the past two years. So, she put this little clandestine in her belly and hit another cricket field.

Life in this new second home was different. Here, she met a wider pool of players. From the ones who were just playing because they took admission under sports quota to the ones who’d travelled miles from their villages to a metro like Delhi in search of better facilities, exposure and recognition; every girl here had her own story which is quite usual yet, felt magical.

Adira had saved quite a few bucks over the recent years such that she could afford coaching fees, cricketing whites and shoes. She spent the initial few months borrowing cricket kit from her peers and often missed college to reach the ground.

Realities were appearing to converge with her expectations as she played quite a few inter college matches and many practice games. But soon she realized that she can’t go really far by playing this hide and seek game at home.

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Is that too much to ask for?

​”Is that too much to ask for?”, she sighed.
Adira plucked her school bag from the almirah after pinning the neatly pleated dupatta and sat in the bus. The occasional honking by the driver pestered her often, and consequently she would switch over to her dreams for resurrection.


Sliding on the seat, pushing the back rest of the front chair through her red striped bellies, she adjusted her focus onto things that offered her a new lease of life.

Racing with the morning sun to reach the horizon earlier, she religiously smacked her bat on reaching the ground.

An atheist, had finally found her God.

Soon after, she geared up for tossing the red cherry on a freshly flattened tract, as she kissed her divine idol before releasing it in the air.

“Beeeeepppppppp”, honked the driver one last time on that trip as the school approached and as always, Adira sulked on busted fantasies just like the little girl who was blowing soap bubbles at the roadside.

She marched to her class with bold steps, yet cowardice found solace within. Retrospection that ruffle adults had swept away this young giant’s mind.
“Is that too much to ask for?”, she sighed.
Her parents were bursting magnanimously on her for choosing cricket as a career option till yesterday but today morning, they wore layers of insecurities than the usual fury. Cluelessness did to them what a steady and determined spirit did to her: minds were blown; but in opposite directions.
Rebel is what they called her, when she didn’t succumb to the stereotypes of the world. Never asking anyone as how to conduct herself and plan her future  as a girl, ample of unsolicited advises poured in. In a first, those torturous remarks dented her morale and unrequited sarcasm bruised her ambitions.
Tirelessly creating and recreating speeches in the broad daylight during the recess break, the protagonist often found herself mindlessly bent over trivial issues. She wanted to convince her father to let her play and resultantly, those speeches were meant to quench the thirst of a father who declined to the glass of water on offer.
Breathing was involuntary and hence, smooth; but Adira’s heartbeat wasn’t so. It pounced at every request she made to her parents to let her follow her heart. After a plethora of futile efforts, she made a firm choice… To walk away.
To walk away from everything that appeared like destiny till few days back to experimenting one cheap life which everyone tagged as priceless. A life which would see you retiring at 55. A life where every nook and corner will be filled with, “Ladki hoke cricket khelti hain?”

A life which will see no family turning to you with an apparent rishta.

A life which even if shorter than the rest would be the largest you could’ve lived ever.

So eventually, she slithered with the butterflies in her stomach to the cricket field. Whooshing with the breezy atmosphere from the pavilion end, she came over the wicket and leaped forth on her left foot to deliver a half volley. With the non bowling arm pulling down tons of mental baggage at the time of release, Adira swung the ball inwards. The red leather disturbed the furniture of a seasoned batswoman and Adira’s soul knew no bounds.

Ounces of sweat under the basking sun, helped in forming the iron sans slag!!
Besides conquering what she felt she was born to, Adira inflated herself with oodles of self love, self confidence and self respect. With so many adjectives prefixed with self, she understood that you can be your favorite despite being selfish. You can care for others despite it not being at the cost of your own health: mental or physical.
She realized that when you want something and are tremendously passionate about it then the whole universe conspires to help you attain that goal. And that “she” is someone we all can be, if we’ve the courage to follow our dreams.
Because, in addition to all the material success, your pursuit of passion is going to carve your own identity, is going to help you discover yourself and most importantly, let you accept yourself. Accept your every mistake and take charge of things; and there’s nothing more sublime than this onus.
If you do all this and more, I promise you, you can be the next YOU of every motivational quote.

NUMBERS

​Michael hussey started learning cricket at 23 and made his debut at the age of 30. Pravin Tambe starred in IPL at 42 while Brad Hodge continued till 42. Zaheer Khan had started at 17 in the domestic circuit. 


On the other hand, Misbah ul Haq hit his tenth test ton internationally at 42 at Lord’s.

Age is a number, they say. And we should stop minding numbers, they say. But so are the records which are made and the ones which are broken. The birthdays you celebrate, the bills I pay, the salary you receive, the pounds I shed off are all numbers. The most suicidal of them all, marks: yours and mine is a combination of digits as well. 
So compressively, how far will you go to keep them at bay? The answer to this can be numerical too.

Numbers were brought into civilisation so as to ration goods and compare the poverty levels. They are incessantly used significantly while issuing financial budgets and speed of the fastest automobile and such numbers don’t disturb.

However, if I pinpoint the losses you’ve incurred or the time you’ve wasted, you’re motivated enough to rebound; to smash my face in the spiritual channels of “numbers are mindless”. 

THE LITTLE DIFFERENCE

​Her mother snatched away the dupatta she was veiling her face with. Her innocent voice protesting to play petty household games like other girls passed across the deaf ears.

Her father, compelled her to sweat harder and combat stronger when other girls began steering away from outdoor sports. Her plea to stay occupied in latest fashion gizmos as a delicate and motionless lump was dumped in the trash bins of uselessness.

With bruised knees and battered hopes, she sprinted, when getting up became insurmountable for the ordinary. Smothered the scorching sun with her frosty bite in the sport, wreaked havoc in the opponents’ tents, smiled and moved forth to demolish the next battalion. And voila! Toiling meticulously with stringent zeal and draining methods, she eventually smelled success. And that’s how she built a legacy!

Today, she towers over the shadows she once wanted to stay limited to. Couldn’t thank her parents enough for the gigantic difference.

JACK OF ALL TRADES

Perhaps, it is good to always be curious and seize. Seize the nuances of a new art form, the precision of an artistically challenged individual and the success mantra of the invincible. Perhaps, if there’s nothing to learn there’s nothing to live for and thereby, nothing to die for.

Coronation of someone as a Jack of all trades has come at the cost of being master of none from times immemorial. Literature dictates how someone holding a sturdy command over myriad arenas falls like nine pins in front of the one who’s immaculate in exactly one thing.

Raising fingers at adages seems cool unless you’re an old school. But bereft of sounding all cool and wayward, let’s derive some logic to counter this one. Putting it across simply, you just CAN’T be a master in one without being a Jack of all trades. Say, you want to hone your skills precisely in cricket. What do you do? Hit a ball all around the park throughout the day? Bowl over to three pale stumps infinitesimally? Definitely not!

You start with athletics. You run and run till you realize that the challenge isn’t to beat anyone else less the little voice in your heart that wants to give up. You boost your stamina this way. Then, you exercise and learn that every push up, squat, lunge and plank are important. Strengthening of core is inevitable. Nutritious diet plan is extremely significant. You toil in the sun, in rain and in storm to push your limits up. Not undermining the fact that you abhor every drop of sweat drenching your body yet you do it all. And ultimately, when you take field after such meticulous efforts, you see the silver lining!

Your throws are now like arrows on the dart board: accurate and quick. Your ball races up with pace too, swinging here and there at will, and the focus and the consistency to hit the deck hard again and again at right areas springs up from under your sleeves like a genie. While batting, your endurance to see the bowlers through under the scorching sun becomes less perturbing and hand-eye coordination notches up as well. And, that’s how winning is done.

You see, for being a Virat Kohli you need not be another Bolt or Tyson. You just need to be a Jack who can run decently and is fairly strong. And this is merely the physical context we’ve covered up by now. High tensile mental strength is a necessary condition to be fulfilled too, if you want to win it big. Soaking up all the pressure like a sponge, battling illnesses at times, overcoming losses of things and people near and dear, humility, benevolence all contribute to your success. One way to achieve this is meditation and from where I can see, probably, the only way.

In addition to this, travelling to different places for various tournaments can be invigorating too if you’re not accustomed to changes and a minimalistic lifestyle. Eventually, a lot of mental, physical and personal training remains an ongoing process throughout the journey.

Conclusively, being a master in one turned out to be a process comprehending sparse parts of an extremely larger universe.

SPORTSWOMEN IN INDIA

Individual sports have still got it easy, at least in relativity. You can bleed in sweat to reach the pinnacle of success singlehandedly if the perseverance is to the mark.

What robs of my sleep is the knowledge that there can be 2 girls in a cricket team, moving boulders to surmount glory; 4 in a soccer one and 3 in hockey who’re made of the same grit and vigour.

But, to their woes the incompetency will be dodged by the remainder of the team. Thus, quite unwillingly, they perish!

Kudos to the steely hearts who still fight everyday because they believe too much in “one wo-man shows” and “match winners” !!!

You’re worth every dream and hope.

IPL : IMPREGNABLE PRODIGIES LEAGUE

Momentarily, let’s all of us make ourselves oblivious of what the IPL is generally tagged with: showbiz, glamour, cheergirls, Siddharth Mallya-Deepika Padukone liplock, sreesanth-harbhajan slapgate, ShahRukh’s somersaults, preity’s loud cheer for her team, pollard-starc ugly spat, Sir Sunil Gavaskar bowing down to the master blaster, England’s ace woman cricketer Isa Guha being coveted as a superstar in India, sponsorships, broadcasting rights, multimedia partners, hotel industry, travel(airline) industry, after night parties, fashion world’s events, franchise owners with heavy purses during the auctions, electronic and print media, housepacked stands in the stadia, Ness-Preity’s relationship status, Shoaib and Sidhu raising their hands for the same team in the studio unlike their playing days, Shilpa-kundra marital journey parallel to the IPL, match fixing scandals and so many more.


Critics stress upon the uninevitable glamour quotient in the IPL, coronating themselves as the cricket aficionados of the ‘purest’ form: test cricket. To all such people out there, I would love to vociferate that the ‘purest’ form of cricket was way back in the seventeenth century in England, when women used to play in hoopla skirts bowling under-arm. After that, all that took over were the transformations in the game.

IPL was inaugurated in 2008. During the same period Zee network’s “Indian Cricket League” was operational. It was an enormous success. The annual tournament, played mostly in Indian summer has gone from strength to strength and is largely viewed as being the ‘richest’ tournament in world cricket.

Until 2012, the Indian Premier League was sponsored by DLF after they paid $50 million for the five-year sponsorship. Pepsi took over the contract for the 2013 IPL after paying close to $72 million for the 5-year contract.

Let’s take a sneek peak at the ‘goodie-goods’ of cricket, now. Every national cricket board in the world wants to incessantly face one problem while selecting its team and that is the problem of plenty. IPL sets the podium for even that. Sunil Narine (for Kolkota Knight Riders) burst onto the global scene when he set the stage on fire in the IPL. After numerous quarrels between the West Indies Cricket Board and Chris Gayle, it were the giant man’s bludgeoning knocks in the IPL (for Royal Challangers Bangalore), that set the path for his entry back to the national team. Azhar Mahmood (from pakistani origin) was drafted onto international cricket arena via IPL(for Kings XI Punjab). Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Lasith Malinga (from tests) are few of the great cricketing legends who after calling it quits from the national duty continued to stay in action in the IPL. This is viewed by people with a raised eyebrow round the world as betrayal and insincerity towards one’s own nation citing the greed of money from the cash-rich tournament as the prime reason. The IPL contract vows to pay all its players the entire sum of match fees if the player is available for five matches in one season. So, if it just would have been that greed then all players would have packed their bags and left after the first five league stage matches. So, inevitably there’s something more to it which the spectator isn’t able to speculate. When a Sunil Narine confronts of missing a Test match for his nation just to be the part of deja vu of being champions in IPL, Lasith Malinga announces his retirement from test cricket when the Sri Lankan board stresses upon calling him for playing tests amidst the IPL, ICC sits down to chart out a window for the IPL in the international calendar of cricketing tours and such schedules, Sir Sachin Tendulkar plays in the IPL after retiring from T20Is; then, the human mind should work towards convincing oneself that the mind is unaware and unknown of the aware and the known (by facts… I mean the latent meaning of those facts).

No where in the world one could have seen the coming together of Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh in IPL after the monkeygate in 2008. Its often pressed upon that IPL should not be eyed by the capped players as a platform for staging comebacks in their national teams keeping at bay the other domestic tournaments, but the intellect betrays the eyes. Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Chris Gayle, Pat Cummins, Wayne Parnell are to name a few.

The double round-robin format of the tournament is followed by the knockout stage to witness the triumphant team. Besides, all the international players who are mentioned above and some not, IPL does a world of good to the domestic uncapped players. From Paul Valthaty’s euphoric century which made the world witness an Adam Gilchrist as a second fiddle to him, to my personal favourite Pravin Tambe’s blitzkreig hat-trick who arrived onto the IPL stage at the age of 41, this emergence of domestic talent is the biggest withdrawal for me from the game and for many more Indians like me.

A young prodigious Sanju Samson or a Manan Vohra, is a delight to just sit back and watch and exclaim “future is safe now!”. Axar Patel has been stupendous this season, so has been Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav and many more, leaving the Indian think tank with aproblem they would love to face perenially and that is the “problem of plenty’.

Yusuf Pathan’s belligerent 37 ball 100, Amit Mishra’s and Yuvraj Singh’s dual hat-tricks have been exemplary finds from all seasons who have stumped the critics responding with the straight bat simultaneously.

Hence, the tournament is a league for impregnable prodigies.

INCESSANT DEBACLES IN THE GAME

If Sir Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is coveted to be the ‘modern God’ of the countrymen then cricket is the religion for that nation. 

And no prizes for guessing.. yes! yes! I’m referring to our very own motherland “India”.

Unlike in real life, in the fantastic world of sports, heart breaking defeats quickly fade to become a part of distant memory; and later gets consigned to the trash bins of history and stat books. Consequently, team India’s horrendous run in overseas tests will get metamorphosed into the dream run as they return with their ammunition in their homeland: reigniting the natives to tag them as “lions in their own den only”.

Batting in the Indian subcontinent, all the players donning the Indian cap will seem to be in “the form of their lives”, and will slip into the garb of “Invincibles”. What’s more, they will demolish one or two hapless teams and the euphoria will hit the roof again.

The entire saga of glory at home and embarrassment away will be seen as part of an intrinsic cycle and the skipper will again mince through words using euphemisms like ‘improvements in the last few months’, ’work in progress’ and so on.

But besides all these things, ’the role of the coach and the support staff’ is the moot point for me.The savant might argue that Dhoni isn’t showing the killer instinct to pounce in test matches, that he is allowing half chances to drift into nothingness; a few others might rue the absence of a true-blue seamer loaded with the gifts of delivering beamers and bouncers almost at will and with absolute ease;with destructive intent and ability to tear apart any batting lineup ;with a knack of picking scalps at regular intervals; and then some may find it irrational not to obey the horses- for- courses policy, and even laugh at the ineffective, ubiquitous spinner whose all mysteries are resolved.

But beyond all that, its high time for at least a couple of players to take charge and play a match winning knock with other batting guns playing second fiddle to them by just rotating strikes, and then taking on the bowlers after settling their nerves and finding their feet moving before undergoing a rough patch.

It’s disheartening to analyse the bowling woes of team India time and again; to demarcate the cut down in pace by the fast bowlers; yet again, coupled with their frailties in accuracy, seam movement and pitching in ‘right areas’. Their inefficiency in hitting the deck hard are signs which should be, of lately, registered by the bowling coach and team management.

The lanky pace duo of Ishant Sharma and Shami Ahmed have flattered to deceive on foreign tracks; while the batsmen with the exceptions of the Kohlis, the Pujaras and the Dhawans still seem to be in terrible discomfort with the devils in the overseas strips which offers extra bounce and lateral movement; leaving them in distress with some chin music. Fielding has always been a department to worry about due to dearth of agility and dynamism among players.

While repair of these intricate damages are hopefully getting looked after, the juggernaut is back in the subcontinent to probably send that no-win recent record deeper in the distant memory by bringing the Midas touch back.